Future Skills Commission for Prisons
Our Mission: To identify and activate practical ways for offenders to build skills and get a job upon release.
About the Commission
A priority theme for The City & Guilds Foundation over the past five years has been supporting the rehabilitation of offenders and former offenders.
There is a recognised and agreed need to reduce reoffending and evidence shows that upskilling prisoners, together with stable accommodation and support is the most effective way to counter recidivism.
The Foundation is amplifying its work in its area through the launch of The Future Skills Commission for Prisons.
The Commission has been established as a new vehicle for the City & Guilds Foundation to support inspirational organisations who are delivering innovative programmes that support offenders to build the skills and move into employment.
Drawing on the expertise of our Commissioners each of whom has substantial experience in the prison sector, The Commission aims to identify and activate practical solutions that will have a measurable impact on reducing reoffending, through working in partnership with charities that deliver practical solutions.
“This is not just a social agenda: it’s hard economics. Industries are facing a burgeoning skills crisis, and there is a huge amount of untapped potential in our prison population. If we get better at developing this potential and matching it with the skills needed for the future, the rewards can be enormous. And we are committed to finding innovative ways to do this.”
Dame Sally Coates FCGI
Director of Secondary Education, United Learning
Sally Coates was Principal of Burlington Danes Academy, an 11-18 Ark Academy in Hammersmith & Fulham from 2008 – 2014. 67 of the students receive the pupil premium grant and it mostly serves the very deprived White City Estate.
Sally chaired The Review of the Teaching Standards and most recently chaired the Skills Test Review. In September 2014 Sally joined United Learning as Director of Academies South. Sally was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2013 New Year’s Honours List.
Founder, SOS Gangs Project
Junior has won numerous awards for his work including; an Honorary Doctorate in Education, Rare Rising Stars Winner 2017, Yvonne Heard Award in Criminology: Best PG Dissertation, Frost Magazine Writer of the Year, Adult Learners Award Advice, Support and Advocacy Community Charity Champion, The Third Sector Excellence Awards 2011, Hero of South London 2008 South London Press Community Champion
James Timpson OBE FCGI
Chief Executive, Timpson Group
James Timpson is Chief Executive of Timpson, the UK’s leading retail service provider and a family retail business, established in 1865 and based in Manchester. The business trades from 1,725 shops across country.
His passion and enthusiasm for business, people, his team and the wider community was recognised in the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, where he was awarded an OBE for ‘Services to Training and Employment for Disadvantaged People’.
James was appointed the HRH Prince of Wales Ambassador for responsible business in the North West in 2015. In the same year, he received the Albert Medal from the Royal Society of Arts. He appeared in the Sunday Times 500 Most Influential list in 2016, acknowledging his recruitment of ex-offenders.
Deputy Director, Education, Employment and Industries Group
Ian was the Governor at HMP Wandsworth – England’s largest public sector prison – and has over 16 years’ experience working across the prison estate. After leaving school at 16 with no qualifications, Ian worked in financial services before completing an Open University degree in Psychology.
He joined the Prison Service in 2004 and worked at HMP Bullingdon. Ian first worked at HMP Wandsworth as Deputy Governor in 2010 and described his first year as “the toughest I’ve ever had, in any job”.
He returned to Wandsworth as Prison Governor in 2015, and was chosen by the Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service to become one of four Executive Governors who would pilot governor autonomy under the prison reform programme.
Retail Operations and People Director, Greggs PLC and Chair of the Employers’ Forum of Reducing Reoffending
Roisin is also the chair of The Employers’ Forum for Reducing Re-offending (EFFRR) is a HMPPS-led initiative whose members are a collective of local and national employers that provide training and employment opportunities for offenders, including Cisco, Timpsons and Marks & Spencer.
Legal Expert and City & Guilds Council Member
Simon was one of the Charity Commission’s two legally-qualified board members from 2006 to 2012. Simon was a legal consultant specialising in charities with Charles Russell LLP and was formerly a partner there.
Simon was also a trustee of Marie Curie Cancer Care, Chair of the St Martin in the Fields Christmas Appeal Charity among other trusteeships in the charity sector. He is a member of the Charity Law Association, associate member of the Charity Finance Directors’ Group and co-editor of the Charity Law Handbook.
Simon has been Official Prison Visitor at HMP Wormwood Scrubs for 35 years and is currently Chair of the Wormwood Scrubs branch of the National Association of Official Prison Visitors.
Chief Executive, UnLtd
Mark joined UnLtd as CEO in May 2016. Prior to that he spent over 20 years’ in the charity and social entrepreneurship sectors, most recently as Chief Executive of CW+, the charity for Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
Mark has an EMBA with distinction from INSEAD and studied Psychology and Philosophy at Oxford University.
Kirstie Donnelly MBE
CEO, City & Guilds Group
The City & Guilds Group exists to help people, organisations and economies develop their skills for growth, and sets the standards for corporate learning, on-the-job development and skills recognition.
The Big Idea Fund
Focus of the Big Idea Fund
In December 2019 The City & Guilds Foundation launched The Future Skills Commission for Prisons with the announcement of a £1.0 million Big Idea Fund to inspire UK charities, prison Governors and social innovators to develop transformative approaches support former offenders to develop the skills they need to find employment.
The Commissioners will use The Big Idea Fund and an aligned programme of work, to support projects which can evidence that they:
- 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.
What we were looking for
The Commission sought ideas that focus on skills that get people into a job which are:
- Innovative: support the development of innovation, which can be stifled by the nature of how some contracts are awarded
- Practical: focused on identifying practical and deliverable solutions
- Collaborative: powers collaboration between the multiple stakeholders operating within the Prison estate
- Pan-Prison: identifies approaches that work across the Prison estate
- Systemic: seek to challenge the major system challenges faced by the HM Prison Service with large, high conviction investments
Solutions to support the rural economy and land-based sector
Commissioners were also particularly interested to receive applications from applicants seeking to innovate in the rural economy or thought developing skills pathways that might help The Big Idea Fund achieve its stated mission through land-based interventions