The Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth sets targets to lift at least 20 million people out of poverty and social exclusion and to increase employment of the population aged 20-64 to 75%. Among those who are on the verge of poverty are also ex-offenders / ex-prisoners who face multiple problems: stigma, negative attitude by society and lack of work skills and/or qualifications. The employment rate of the low qualified is nearly 80% lower than the employment rate of individuals with higher level qualifications. Even though there is no exact data on the qualification levels of offender / prisoners, it has been estimated that only 3-5% of them would be qualified to undertake a higher level education.
Low levels of qualifications have significant negative effects on ex-offenders employment prospects upon release, which has been found to be one of the key factors influencing whether or not they re-offend. In addition to possibly having low qualifications, ex-offenders / ex-prisoners face a number of other barriers to securing employment, including lack of experience in the work environment and also prejudice – having a criminal record is a key barrier to obtaining a job. Post release license restrictions can also prevent a person from taking up a particular job or moving to a new area to look for work, thereby reducing their mobility within the labour market. Yet, some research shows that being in employment reduces the risk of re-offending by between a third and a half. With employment playing an important role in influencing the chances of ex-offender / ex-prisoner’s re-offending it is crucial to try to address their skills gaps through the provision of learning opportunities which provide skills and competences, relevant to the (local) job market.
In order to improve the employability of ex-offenders, organisations from 6 countries (Lithuania, Poland, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and Cyprus) have joined forces in the Erasmus+ project INforEX (www.inforexproject.eu) to create an on the job training programme that will enable ex-offenders with low qualifications to gain necessary social and work skills that are necessary for the workplace.
The methodology on the training programme involves three parts – training providers, employers and ex-offenders or ex-prisoners. The training providers act as an intermediary body between employers and ex-offenders / ex-prisoners and trainers of both parties.
Due to the specific challenges that the target group typically face, the preparation of trainers who will be responsible for monitoring the ex-offenders / ex-prisoners’ training within the premises of a company is necessary. A training programme has been created and a new suite of resources for training providers to discuss with employers the communication aspects with ex-offenders / ex-prisoners, social and psychological factors of working with them and the challenges that the on the job trainers might encounter. The programme advises to have at least 40 hours of employers’ training.
The training programme is based on the actual demands of the employer, and real jobs that they need to recruit for – a job position description (distinguishing skills, knowledge and competences required to perform the job) is formed which is the basis of the on the job training of ex-offenders / ex-prisoners.
Furthermore, partners within the project have anticipated that prior to matching the ex-prisoner with the company, the training provider will complete an initial training programme with ex-offenders / ex-prisoners – to assess their skills and match them with the available job training position. During this programme, they will also work on their low self-esteem, (self)-confidence, basic life skills, effective communication and work culture to make the transition to the on the job training easier.
The innovative aspect of the methodology is that the participant gets a certificate for skills, knowledge and competences gained (based on Level 3 of EQF) even if he/she does not complete the whole training path (while the whole training process consisting of 320 hours).
Currently partners are planning the piloting of the created programme with 144 ex-offenders / ex-prisoners who will get their skills certified and hopefully the experience gained during the training will increase their possibilities to gain meaningful employment. It is hoped that some of the participants will also be offered a permanent job at the place of the training, once the project has completed.
Project INforEX – “Innovative ways of including low qualified ex offenders and ex prisoners to labour market”, Erasmus+ KA2 Strategic Partnerships project No. 2016-1-LT01-KA204-023242, project duration 01/10/2016 – 30/09/2018.
For more information please contact Ella Bujok at CASCAID – firstname.lastname@example.org – +44 1509 226 870.
- Social Protection & Social Inclusion. Prieiga per internetą: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=750 Žiūrėta [2017-09-05]
- Prison Education and Training in Europe. Prieiga per internetą: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/education_culture/repository/education/library/study/2013/prison_en.pdf [2017-09-05]
- Project website. Prieiga per internetą: www.inforexproject.eu [2017-09-05]
by Ella Bujok, International and Partner Business Manager