City & Guilds Foundation funds Breakthrough to support prison leavers into apprenticeships in innovative new partnership

by Feb 8, 2023Campaigning, News, Prisoners and ex-offenders

The City & Guilds Foundation and Breakthrough, the UK’s first apprenticeship provider to recruit directly from prisons, have entered a new partnership to support prison leavers into employment.

Founded in March 2020, Breakthrough was the first charity to focus on delivering pre-apprenticeship training in prison and technology apprenticeships on release.

And for the first time, from October 2022 the government has allowed prisoners to start apprenticeships in prison – this could be transformative in addressing a number of education and training challenges that offenders face following release and on the road to rehabilitation. With the right support it will help to open up work opportunities and give employers a chance to help fill skills gaps, engage with an untapped talent pool and bring a very different perspective to their business in a highly impactful way.

The funding from City & Guilds Foundation has supported Breakthrough with running one of its pre-apprenticeship programmes in the community with those individuals who have a lived experience of the justice system. The 8-week programme covered soft skills and mindset training alongside technical training projects.

On Friday 27 January 2023 City & Guilds and Breakthrough came together at the offices of Breakthrough’s employer partner CGI to celebrate the graduation of the first cohort of learners.

Dee Norval, Founder of Breakthrough said: “I am a specialist in criminal justice and through my work I could see a huge gap in the provision of high-quality training in prisons that would allow prisoners to access work when they left prison. Giving prisoners the opportunity to earn a decent salary upon release is so important as it drastically reduces their chances of reoffending.

“I founded Breakthrough in 2020 with a focus on delivering pre apprenticeship training whilst in prison and technology apprenticeships upon release. We have been working with lots of organisations who support delivering the programme or provide apprenticeships, for example KPMG, CGI and Amazon – so we know the motivation of having a secure employment contract to move into is highly motivating to prisoners, and in turn gives employers a skilled and loyal workforce.”

The UK has one of the worst reoffending rates in the world, with over half of UK prisoners reoffending within a year. A lack of post-release support to find long-term, meaningful employment contributes to the UK having one of the worst re-offending rates in the world. This problem impacts all of society; over £18bn cost to the government, loss of talent in job markets and creating cycles of crime, with more victims in our communities. Prison leavers who are employed are half as likely to reoffend as their unemployed peers and yet only 16% of prison leavers are employed within 12 months.

Kirstie Donnelly, CEO of City & Guilds said: “Breakthrough is doing incredibly important work supporting prison leavers into employment, which is why City & Guilds Foundation decided to invest in this vital project. We have seen how lives can be changed and new pathways created, and with the growing skills gap that couldn’t be more important. Programmes like this could be a step change not only for those involved but in generating much needed evidence about how the prison population could be an overlooked but important resource for many organisations. We hope to share our knowledge and impact from this work widely and to help generate further evidence on skills for success”

Further Information:

As with all City & Guilds Foundation funded programmes, we will be closely tracking the impact of the funding through City & Guilds’ impact measurement framework.

The Big Idea fund, is designed by the City & Guilds Foundation to:

  • Explore innovative new ways to enable offenders to progress into meaningful, stable employment through the development of their skills
  • To ensure that the skills agenda in prisons is forward facing and that offenders develop the skills necessary for the future jobs market
  • To identify new approaches and showcase effectiveness.

Find out more about Breakthrough here.

Find out more about City & Guilds Foundation here.

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