Stopping the revolving door: How can we get prison education and employment right?
With repeated re-offending estimated to cost the UK economy £15 billion a year, prison education and employment could be a smart investment by the government, providing it gets it right, writes Seetec’s Director of Justice Nigel Bennett.
Teaching prisoners valuable job skills makes smart economic sense. It reduces the chances of re-offending and provides a better equipped labour supply for employers.
The evidence is clear: if a prisoner gets a job after leaving prison, they are less likely to offend. According to a government report, the re-offending rate is more than twice as high among former prisoners who do not enter formal employment.
But job opportunities can be scarce and limited on release from prison.
From April 2019, governors will have greater autonomy over decisions made in prisons to match training and work more closely to the needs of the local labour market.
Governor-led commissioning is an exciting opportunity to increase prisoners’ engagement with education to improve their outcomes.
But how can we succeed?
- Equip prisoners with skills and increase their confidence.
Those that have served a prison sentence often have a loss of confidence, self-esteem, and motivation, which can make the job market difficult to access. At Seetec, our employment coaches work alongside men and women in prisons to identify their skills and development areas so the individual is more job ready. They use coaching techniques to build the prisoner’s self-confidence and skills. This is the crux of getting prisoners job ready. Michael’s story is a testament to its success.
- Work more closely with employers, so they open their eyes to the benefits of hiring ex-offenders. Some employers have a poor perception of people with criminal records. A YouGov survey, commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions in 2016, found that 50% of employers would not consider employing an ex-offender.
Seetec introduces employers to prisons and brokers arrangements so production can take place inside prisons. An example is our partnership with Remade with Hope in HM Prison Thorn Cross in the North West of England, which sees prisoners learn logistics, packing and sewing skills. It can break down the employer’s perception of offenders. As Remade with Hope Director Adrian Potts explained: “The first time Nigel took me into a prison I didn’t know what to expect. What I found was a workforce who were prepared to engage and a prison management team that was forward thinking and helpful.”
- Ensure that prisoners have the skills that employers want. Businesses report they will need a significant number of additional skilled workers to meet demand over the next five years, according to a recent City and Guilds survey.
Seetec identifies real time labour market information and uses this to match prisoners to jobs in their release area, increasing an individual’s chance of securing a job on release.
It’s easy for an offender to fall back into a life of crime when they have no prospects and nothing to lose. Getting education and employment right in prison, gives them the ability to gain financial security, a sense of purpose and a stake in the local community – all essential to help a person successfully change their life on release.
To learn more about Seetec and its work in prisons, contact us today https://www.seetec.co.uk/justice.