construction academy, HMP Leeds,
© Ant Clausen

A new £250,000 construction academy opened at HMP Leeds last week, to equip offenders in Yorkshire with valuable skills ahead of release

The construction academy initiative came into play as a recent YouGov poll revealed that 81% of firms that have employed an ex-offender claimed it had helped their business. It is also in response to estimates by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) that an extra 157,000 new recruits will be needed in the industry by 2021.

Launched on 21 May 2019, the construction academy will support up to 168 prisoners across 12 months. Once enrolled at the academy, prisoners will work towards level one qualifications including bricklaying, carpentry and joinery, wall and floor tiling, carpentry and joinery.

The Ministry of Justice said that the new education facility will help to cut the £15bn annual cost of reoffending as ex-offenders in employment are less likely to commit further crime.

Justice secretary David Gauke, said: “Broadening access to training and work opportunities is a vital part of our strategy to steer offenders away from a life of crime and ultimately keep the public safe.

“I urge more businesses to join this movement and help ex-offenders turn their backs on crime for good.”

Steve Mellor, operations director for Kier Housing Maintenance North, added: “We’re pleased that HMP Leeds has launched a new construction academy, this is a great initiative to help towards the rehabilitation of inmates.

“We fully support this and are currently in discussions with HMP Leeds on things like running workshops, offering mentoring, donating surplus materials and, where appropriate, working with our client to offer work experience to prisoners released on temporary license.”

The construction academy training will be delivered by London-based charity Bounce Back. The project is funded by the HM Prison & Probation Service Co-financing Organisation (HMPPS CFO).

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