Construction Youth Trust Cymru has been delivering a Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) funded BAM Nuttall project to support people with convictions into construction employment in Wales. The CITB forecasts that the Welsh construction sector will need 12,250 additional workers over the next five years. Companies in Wales are already having difficulty finding suitably skilled staff. There are economic benefits of supporting ex-offenders. Reoffending costs the UK up to £13 billion a year (Home Office, 2013).
The Clean Slate Cymru project ran or commissioned pilot projects to innovate new approaches to support people with convictions into construction employment. We delivered eleven pilot projects with the support of construction companies, criminal justice sector, the third sector, and training organisations across Wales. In Conwy Creating Enterprise included a one day work placement, so participants could see if a career in construction was right for them, as part of their course. In HMP Berwyn in Wrexham they delivered an innovative traffic management pilot the first of its kind in a UK prison. HMP Cardiff worked with Cardiff and Vale College to deliver a pathway to a construction apprenticship pilot.
The main objective of the project was to produce guidance for the construction industry, to continue to support people with convictions, after the formal project end. Following the learning from the pilot projects we put together the Clean Slate Cymru Toolkit. The Toolkit is designed to support construction companies to achieve social value and support people with convictions on their journey into construction in prisons and communities. For example, as there are a lot of experienced construction workers in prisons Galliford Try piloted a consultation form in a prison to see how the construction industry could support them. The prison consultation form is one of the editable templates included in the Toolkit.
During the project pilot partners delivered 66 construction training interventions. To date, almost 50% of participants have progressed into employment, education or training. We also engaged 170 ex-offenders at career fairs in Welsh prisons. We have also delivered ‘Industry Days’ at HMP Parc where we took construction industry volunteers in to give industry led information, advice and guidance. Reoffending rates are greatly influenced by whether a person finds work or not. Employment is often quoted as the most important factor in reducing re-offending.
One of the residents who attended a Galliford Try construction careers workshop at HMP Berwyn was John*. Galliford Try’s CSR Manager arranged for John to complete Health & Safety, CSCS preparation and training on release. John was then given a short unpaid work trial where he worked hard and showed enthusiasm to learn new skills. After a week-long work trial, he was offered temporary employment. John continued to shine through his fixed term employment. When his temporary contract ended Galliford Try were delighted to reward John’s hard work and enthusiasm with a permanent job.
“I have been in and out of jail for 15 years, and this is my first ever job. Having this opportunity has made me want to keep out of trouble. My 7-year-old daughter, mum and whole family are proud of me. Having work has given me a positive attitude, it’s changed my outlook and frame of mind. The support that I’ve received from Galliford Try has made me realise that it’s never too late to change.
BAM Nuttall and Construction Youth Trust launched the Clean Slate Cymru Toolkit at the Pierhead Building at the Senedd on 4th December. If you would like to find out more about the project please contact Jemma, the project manager at: Cymru@constructionyouth.org.uk
*John’s name has been changed for anonymity purposes