A purpose-built workshop at Rimutaka Prison is allowing prisoners to gain qualifications to help them get employment on release.
Corrections Inmate Employment (CIE) National Training Manager Saen O’Brien says the building offers prisoners’ first-rate training facilities.
Saen says despite the challenges offered by the prison setting, the facility allows CIE to provide training for prisoners studying towards a National Certificate in Building, Construction and Allied Trades (BCATs).
“The classroom has been designed in consultation with WELTEC and is modelled as closely as possible on their facilities.”
The workshop, which includes work facilities and a separate classroom is a big advance on what was previously provided for the prisoners.
“Our old building was basically a large shed, it was so cold that during fine days we often held our classes outside.”
Constructing the facility also presented the prisoners with a great opportunity to directly apply the skills they were learning onto a real project.
“As part of the initial training the students built as many of the class facilities as possible, including storage areas and work benches. Currently they’re building a deck to go round this and adjoining classrooms and constructing the foundations for a shed and adding paths.”
Saen says that 12 prisoners at Rimutaka are currently studying for their BCATs and around 25 more prisoners are hoping to complete the course this year. An additional 30 prisoners are also currently studying towards qualifications in painting and in motor industry in adjoining classrooms.
“They are all making a real effort to gain these qualifications and many of them are very passionate about the work they are doing. It is very satisfying to see prisoners connect with something that provides them with the opportunity to improve their lives once they leave prison.”
Saen says helping prisoners gain qualifications benefits both the prisoners involved and the wider community.
The last prison census showed that 55 per cent of prisoners did not have a job before entering prison and that 52 per cent had no formal qualifications. Research shows that prisoners who find sustainable employment on release are less likely to re-offend, which helps keep our communities safer.
“We’ve had some great success stories from prisoners achieving trade qualifications, two previous graduates are now successfully working as painters after their release. Their lives are different now – they’re working hard and doing well.”
“The skills they learn here can be really important in helping them turn their lives around when they leave prison. Equally important is seeing their attitudes improve so that they want to engage in further steps to improve their situation and keep away from crime.”
Note to media:
Interested media are invited to visit the new workshop at Rimutaka Prison on Thursday 21 May at 11.30am. The visit will also include short tours of the adjacent painting and small-engine workshops. Interviews/photos of offenders undertaking training courses can be arranged on application. Please RSVP to the email address below by 10am Wednesday 20 May.
For further information contact the Communications Services Desk:
Copyright © Department of Corrections | Feedback and queries email: firstname.lastname@example.org