Seven prisoners involved in Corrections Inmate Employment (CIE) training at Manawatu Prison will today celebrate successfully completing the Building Construction and Allied Trades (BCAT) unit standards needed to gain a Level 2 National Certificate.
The BCATs programme has been running for 18 months at a purpose built workshop facility within the prison’s compound. It is taught by UCOL staff, construction lecturers Steven Wharehinga and Lindsay Tamblyn.
BCATS is a Level 2 programme and is regarded as an introduction to joinery and construction. Four courses are run each year, over the course of ten weeks.
The course gives students a broad understanding of building processes, the tools and the jargon used in the trade. During their practical studies, the students are setting out and constructing a utility building and building a garden chair, saw-stools and a scale model of a house.
Despite the unique conditions, Steven says, “The students are really keen. I often have to turn the power off in the workshop at lunch time to make them take a break.”
“A high proportion of those who enter prisons do so without any formal qualifications, and the BCAT course is a great way for prisoners to learn new skills and potentially find themselves a place in the labour market once they leave prison,” says CIE Central Area Manager Julie Gowan.
“Next year we are introducing a Level 3 carpentry qualification for students at the prison, as a pathway towards apprenticeship.”
“This course is valuable for inmates who are about to be released, as it familiarises them with a daily work routine and provides an incentive for future job seeking. We hope that the introduction of the Level 3 course next year will build on this, and help encourage prisoners to work for an apprenticeship placement on release,” says Julie.
Research shows that prisoners who find sustainable employment on release are less likely to re-offend.
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