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Apprenticeships: Prisoners

Volume 618: debated on Tuesday 6 December 2016

As outlined in the prison safety and reform White Paper, we will introduce a prisoner apprenticeship pathway that will offer prisoners opportunities that count towards the completion of a formal apprenticeship on release. This scheme is being developed as part of our offender employment strategy which will be published in the new year.

HMP Lewes is exactly the kind of local prison that will benefit from the new prison apprenticeship pathway. I anticipate that the prison will also benefit from the new Prison Service apprenticeship scheme that we are launching in 2017, which will help recruit members to the Prison Service by widening the number of entry points into the service.

16. Most apprenticeships require literacy. What proportion of prisoners was functionally illiterate at the start of their sentence and what proportion was functionally illiterate on release? (907689)

The hon. Gentleman asks a very important question. At the moment, roughly 50% of prisoners are illiterate as far as English and maths are concerned. Our prison safety and reform White Paper proposes that we test prisoners’ literacy on entry and on exit so that we can measure the distance travelled and progress made in prison.

Which prison has the best record for training prisoners for gainful employment once they leave, and how might that best practice be rolled out across the prison estate?

My hon. Friend asks a very important question. Across the Prison Service there are patches of good work aimed at employment post-release. We want to create a system to measure that, and to identify and rank prisons according to how well they do in that respect. That is precisely what our White Paper does. Employment post-release is one of the outcome measures against which governors will be judged once we proceed with reform.

Work experience outside prison can also enhance a prisoner’s employment opportunities on release, so what guidance is the Minister giving prisons—not just reform prisons, but governors of all prisons—in relation to release on temporary licence?

Release on temporary licence has a huge role to play in helping prisoners to gain employment in the wider world. I have been speaking with Timpson’s, for example, which employs a lot of ex-offenders, and that is how they are trialled before release. We are looking at that to ensure that the guidance that governors receive allows them to do more with release on temporary licence, specifically in relation to employment opportunities.