Offenders to receive improved employment training

Prison education and training are to be improved in order to help offenders into jobs when they leave prison, the government has announced.

The plans are outlined in a new Green Paper, and they focus on improving the skills of offenders, working in partnership with employers and those who provide high-quality training.

The main proposals include a stronger focus on jobs, with more relevant skills training, designed by and responding to employers’ needs; a new ‘contract’ for offenders, with incentives for participation; and a ‘campus’ model for offenders to ensure continuity of education from prisons into the community.

According to Home Office figures, released prisoners are more likely to continue to offend than they are to be rehabilitated, with up to one in five crimes committed by ex-prisoners.

Education and Skills Secretary Ruth Kelly said: "Half of all prisoners have no qualifications at all and more than a third have reading skills below the level of those expected of an 11 year old. Two thirds were unemployed before prison and many have no prospect of finding jobs when they are released.

"There has been a great deal of progress in the provision of offender training and education in recent years, with increased investment and improved basic skills training for offenders in the community. Since 2001 qualifications in literacy, language and numeracy have more than doubled. And last year, more than 41,000 offenders leaving prison went directly into employment, training or education.

"But we must do more. We need to be providing opportunities for education and training, which lead to skills and qualifications that are meaningful for employers and lead to real jobs. We know from evidence from a range of existing employer-led training and employment schemes, that when ex-offenders are given the right training and opportunities for sustained and satisfying employment they can be turned away from crime."

Today’s Green Paper has been published ahead if the government’s five-year strategy for reducing re-offending and protecting the public, which will be published in the New Year.


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