On the 14th April, I attended the Offenders’ Learning, Skills and Employability Conference. Held at Westminster Studio, the conference brought together a range of delegates from organisations including prisons and skills and training organisations.
The conference focused on the provision offenders need to obtain sustainable employment following their release from prison. The first part of the day set the scene, with Richard Ward from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) providing an insight into the latest policy regarding offender learning. Interestingly, Richard spoke about how a virtual campus in prisons would be important for ensuring that offenders get access to the study and training they need.
Another interesting speech was delivered by Julian Hosking, Education Manager at HMP Wandsworth. Julian spoke about employer engagement and, in particular, how HMP Wandsworth has opened its doors to employers, allowing them to see what the prison is doing to help offenders gain the skills they need for sustainable employment. This successful method also helps to reduce the negative connotations linked with employing someone with a criminal record.
Some speakers touched on the fact that many offenders do not want to go to college to develop their skills and gain qualifications. Many have had bad experiences with school and do not feel that they fit into the mainstream education system. As a result, it was suggested that there should be more qualifications and training delivered in the prison or specific sessions for offenders delivered in colleges.
I am interested in any views you have on offender learning provisions. Do you feel that the right provisions are being made to help offenders gain the skills needed for sustainable employment?