Northland Region Corrections Facility recently celebrated the graduation of six prisoners with Level 2 National Certificates in Forestry. The qualification covers the requirements to work in a Forestry work team including forestry tree knowledge, plant pruning, chainsaw operation and health & safety practices.
“The course is taught by Corrections Inmate Employment (CIE), and all the CIE forestry instructors said they were really impressed with the work of these prisoners, and the quality of the work is something that they can be very proud of,” says National Prisoner Training Manager Saen O’Brien.
Six prisoners graduated from the forestry course and four more prisoners gained partial forestry qualifications with the aim to go on to complete their qualifications over the year.
“All ten also gained their fork lift licenses, which combined with the forestry course helps lay a foundation of skills which will make the graduates more employable in a range of industries once they are released,” says Mr O’Brien.
As part of the Corrections Inmate Employment forestry course, prisoners must learn many different forestry cuts with chainsaws. To enhance their understanding of saw skills the CIE Tutors used two sculpting saws to get the prisoners to combine their saw knowledge with sculpting.
“The by product of the saw skills training were sculptured figures: three dimensional mainly Maori figures. A number of these figures were sold to staff and the proceeds given to Kaikohe Police Youth Aid for at risk youth,” says Mr O’Brien.
“The prisoners found learning new skills rewarding, and the staff were genuinely impressed with the quality of the figures they produced. It was a positive learning experience with a creative twist that these prisoners had never experienced before and by associating this learning with positive re-enforcement they came away that much more confident in their own abilities. Northland Corrections Inmate Employment hope to repeat this for the next Course when ten new prisoners start in a week as it was really successful.
“We can leave prisoners in their cells all day or we can give them some experience in working and gaining trade skills that will assist them in getting meaningful work upon release; research shows that this will reduce the likelihood that they will re-offend,” says Mr O’Brien.
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