Next Step Test Bed Regions
EAST OF ENGLAND TEST BED
The East of England is one of the two ‘Reducing re-offending through skills and employment’ Test Bed regions, the other region is the West Midlands. The Test Beds run to 31 March 2009 and during this time will be trying different ways in different locations to improve the skills and employability of offenders to help them move into jobs. The Test Bed activity builds on the work delivered through OLASS and the Prison and Probation Services.
The main themes of the Test Bed are:
- Engaging with employers to increase the part they play in helping offenders move into work
- Developing a ‘campus model’, including the use of an ‘employability compact’
- Building a new emphasis on skills and jobs in prison and in the community
- The Virtual Campus
Engaging with employers
The East of England region has formed an Employer Leadership Group. This is made up of employers from various sectors, including social care, hospitality, construction and logistics. The Group has been testing attitudes on employing offenders, as well as feeding information into the Test Bed team as to what skills and training are needed by offenders in order to meet the needs of employers. Another important aspect of the Group’s work is to feed information into the Test Bed as to what support employers feel they need in order to give offenders a job.
Campus model/developing a coherent offer
The work in this area is all about ensuring that provision to offenders works in a joined up way to help them get the skills they need to move into work and to ensure they receive advice and guidance at the most appropriate point.
The employability compact is being trialled both in prisons and in the community. The idea of the compact is to get offenders in prison and in the community to commit to improving their skills and demonstrating their general work-readiness in return for enhanced job search support. Offenders will be expected to improve their vocational skills as well as literacy and numeracy (if required) and will be expected to display employability characteristics which have been identified through employer surveys, eg reliability, motivation, and integrity. The job search support will take the form of specific training, guaranteed interviews (with feedback,) work trials or placements.
It is vital that the skills offenders gain meet the needs of employers. East of England prisons already deliver training in specific areas such as catering and construction, but the Test Bed are working with the Sector Skills Council to review the existing training and qualifications and ensure that they are relevant to the labour market.
The ‘Virtual Campus’
The ‘virtual campus’ is, essentially, an IT platform allowing providers and offenders access to training and other material which will help them prepare for release and for employment. This is currently on trial at one of the East of England prisons.
For further information on the work of the Test Bed please contact:
T 01733 425 235
T 01733 425 222