Since August 2015, our Employment Academies have continued to place more and more prisoners into real and sustainable employment upon release. We work closely with the teams across the prisons where we work, to develop programmes that not only give prisoners the skills they need to enter the work place, but also meet the specific needs of the employers with whom we partner. We are proud that the success of this approach has now secured employment for over 650 ex-prisoners.
Offering a variety of qualifications aimed at getting prisoners into employment on release, the programme is currently delivered at 14 prisons across The Midlands and South Central regions and will continue to be offered when the new Prison Education Framework contracts start in April 2019. The programmes bring together the extensive knowledge that MK College and its employer partners have developed, building employment pathways for learners and talent pipelines for employers.
The excellent work our team does to support prisoners right through the process, from their last weeks in custody through to post-release support, ensures that the candidates we put forward for interview are prepped and ready for the challenges the workplace brings to a newly released individual. We know that gaining employment upon release dramatically reduces the chances of reoffending; providing the building blocks to equip ex-prisoners with the best chances possible to thrive in their work placement is fundamental to everything we do, from the learning programmes we operate in our 27 prisons to our ‘through the gate’ services. Sean is an ex-prisoner from HMP Featherstone and commented: “I worked with the MK College Employment Academy for about 18 months prior to my release. They helped me to prepare for interviews and gave me advice on how to get back into work. I have now been working for over a year which wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the help and support I had from them”.
We have fantastic relationships with our employer partners and the feedback we get from them helps us to make sure our learners are always primed with the best skills for the needs of the employment market today. The employers we work with cover a range of sectors from Hospitality and Catering through to Retail and Construction, including national employers such as The Timpson Group. Their National Recruitment Ambassador Darren Burns says: “The Timpson Group has been successfully working in partnership with Milton Keynes College Employment Academies since 2016. The MK College Academy team takes the time to understand the business needs of The Timpson Group, providing a recruitment pipeline through their approach to working with learners in custody, enabling a seamless transition for learners on the programme, ‘through the gate’ and into sustainable employment post release. The Employment Academy programme continues to be a successful partnership and one that we will be continuing to develop with Milton Keynes College through 2019”.
We are very excited about the next phase of our Employment Academy programme as we develop this offering with new and existing partners in the new Prison Education Framework throughout 2019.