In a first for Rimutaka Prison, a group of prisoners have built a 3 bedroom house as part of their construction programme.

Eight men who participated in the build graduated from the Level 3 New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trade Skills (Allied Trades and Carpentry) programme in a ceremony in the prison on Wednesday.

A prisoner and instructor with the new house at Rimutaka Prison.

The 34-week programme is delivered in the prison by WelTec.

“Building a house has been a terrific opportunity for the men to further develop their core skills from the Level 2 programme,” says Rimutaka Prison Director Viv Whelan.

The house has a footprint of approximately 113sq m, is double glazed and insulated and is a timber bevel-back weatherboard construction. Electrical and plumbing work including pressure-testing, have been completed by WelTec.

“The training the men have received fits with what the construction industry needs – people with practical skills, hands-on experience of using tools and machinery, experience of health and safety procedures, and team work,” says Ms Whelan.

“The men have built more than a house; they’ve built a future for themselves.”

“We’ve had a partnership with WelTec to deliver trade training programmes on site for nearly 10 years. Participating in quality education and gaining trade skills can reduce the likelihood of re-offending.”

Chris Gosling, WelTec and Whitireia Chief Executive presented the men with their certificates and said; “We are pleased to recognise the achievement of these students today.  With this new nationally recognised qualification in construction these students will have the ability to enter the booming construction industry.  Educational attainment at this level provides students with a sound base for further training and advancement in industry.  The students should feel proud of their achievements and the house that they have constructed has been built to a very high standard.”

Mike* who worked on the house and was presented with his qualification said, “As well as trades skills we have learnt perseverance, willingness, courage, and team leadership, but one of the main ones is being able to ask for help.”

The house is owned by WelTec who will have it moved off-site in the New Year. Wet areas, flooring and kitchen will be added afterwards.

Across Corrections in the 2016/17 financial year 3,894 qualifications were achieved by prisoners, with 1,992 prisoners participating in trade training.

WelTec training delivered at Rimutaka Prison also includes painting and decorating, plumbing, plastering, brick and block laying and other trades are planned for next year. WelTec tutors teach technical skills in the prison workshops supported by Corrections’ custodial officers.

The courses that prisoners complete and the qualifications gained in prison are the same as the external programmes delivered by WelTec in the community at Petone.

Reducing re-offending is Corrections’ top priority and by helping prisoners to earn skills and qualifications, it could help them gain employment on release. Research shows that getting a sustainable job can reduce the likelihood of re-offending and help create safer communities.”