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Prisoners: Employment

Volume 477: debated on Thursday 19 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps the Government has taken to assist prisoners to gain employment when released. (211935)

The Ministry of Justice is working in partnership with the Departments for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and Work and Pensions to implement the “Reducing Re-offending through Skills and Employment: Next Steps” action plan, in which the three priorities are to:

engage employers through the Reducing Re-offending Corporate Alliance in improving the skills and employment outcomes of offenders;

build on the new Offender Learning and Skills Service through the campus model which will give offenders more flexible access to skills and employment support with effective use of ICT; and

use the commissioning role of the offender manager to build a new emphasis on skills and jobs in prisons and probation areas.

Work to implement the plan includes ensuring that offenders are given advice on job searching from Jobcentre Plus while still in custody and that this support continues after release. Many offenders are able to benefit from employment programmes such as the new deal and Progress2Work.

In addition, on 31 January 2008, the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor Official Report, column 37WS, my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) announced the publication of the Prison Policy Update briefing paper which set out the Government’s plans to increase the range of constructive work available to prisoners inside prisons, which will in turn increase their chances of getting a job on the outside. This work is well under way.

On 12 June he also announced four new workshops at Stocken prison. Bricklaying, painting and decorating, and learning to refurbish and repair hire equipment for builders’ merchant Travis Perkins are among the skills being taught in the workshops.

On 10 June I launched a major new vocational training scheme at Wandsworth prison with Cisco Systems, Bovis Lend Lease and Panduit. The scheme will train prisoners in installing voice and data cabling within business and residential developments and, where possible, employing them within the Bovis social enterprise Be Onsite.