Employment related training and employment opportunities are increasing for prisoners at Northland Region Corrections Facility, meaning prisoners are being released with a better chance of never being back behind bars.
“Research shows that the majority of prisoners have limited education and work experience when they enter prison, 42 prisoners have been working toward certificates in forestry, horticulture and carpentry this year in partnership with NorthTec.”
“By working with prisoners and providing them with opportunities to learn a trade or get some qualifications and experience we can ultimately help break the cycle of crime in our communities” says Corrections Inmate Employment (CIE) Area Manager Don Robertson.
On-the-job learning by prisoners in the carpentry workshop has been put to good use locally. In the past prisoners have made picnic tables as part of their course curriculum which were donated to schools and community groups in the Northland region.
In a new partnership, prisoners are making frames, or ‘skeleton houses’ for Habitat for Humanity, and are currently halfway through building the third house while working toward Elementary Certificates in Construction.
Habitat for Humanity is a not-for-profit organisation that partners with families in need to eliminate sub-standard housing by building, renovating and selling simple, decent homes on an affordable basis.
Once the prisoners have completed the house, it will be checked for accuracy, partially dismantled and trucked to Waikare Inlet to be completed for a waiting family.
Don says the range of training opportunities available to prisoners is significant, given the prison has been operating for just over three years.
“Since 2005, staff have helped 162 prisoners work toward recognised qualifications. In June, we hope this number will reach 200.”
CIE have assessed current market trends and identified the industries short of skilled labour and focuses work into these areas, meaning these prisoners will have a real chance of gaining employment on their release from prison.
“Research shows that prisoners who are released and find sustainable employment are less likely to reoffend.”
In addition to the recognised NZQA qualifications, 56 prisoners have obtained their forklift licences – an essential skill for prisoners looking to be employed in warehousing, automotive dismantling or logistics and supply.
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