In 2020, Complete Skills Solutions (CSS) began delivering several training courses across in His Majesty’s Prison Service across England.
The courses are designed to support individuals to acquire new skills and qualifications, boosting their chances of successful reintegration into society upon release.
The UK has one of the highest prison populations in Europe at an estimated 89,520. There also exists a culture in the UK whereby individuals who have served time in prison are often ostracised from the workforce upon release and deprived of the chance to properly re-integrate into society.
In the 2021 Prisons Whitepaper, it highlighted that supporting prison leavers into work reduces the chances of reoffending. In 2017, the Ministry of Justice’s Data Lab conducted a study which found that offenders who had enrolled on a City & Guilds (construction) qualification, were less likely to re-offend, had a lower frequency of re-offences, and took longer to re-offend than those who had not obtained a qualification.
In the last two years, CSS has cultivated a growing network of partnerships with HMPS nationally, where they deliver their training programmes. Today, the training provider delivers 13 training courses across 10 prisons.
The courses include barbering, barista, employability, warehousing, customer service, business administration, waste management & recycling, manufacturing and more.
In addition, CSS work in partnership with external organisations to support the delivery of courses such as HGV, welding, and forklift driving.
Managing Director at CSS, Ian Green, said: “At Complete Skills Solutions we are passionate about enabling individuals to develop the skills, knowledge, and tools to secure great employment. Regardless of a person’s circumstances, everyone should have access to the same learning opportunities.
“When offenders leave prison, they face expectations that their lives must return to normal – this can be especially difficult for those who have served lengthy sentences.
“Ex-offenders face huge obstacles when searching for employment, and there is often a stigma around employing those individuals. At CSS, we want to support those people by boosting their employment prospects through high-quality training.”
Over 600 learners have engaged across all courses, with over 400 achievements to date. Last year, CSS shared the story of an individual who completed a barbering course in prison, and later became a business mogul, owning a barbering shop.
Lucy Chapman, Head of Sector at CSS, has been at the centre of the prison delivery. She said: “Education and skills training can be a real beacon of hope for prisoners; it can transform prisons into a place of opportunity.
“There is often a stigma around those who have a criminal record, and sadly many employers are hesitant to invest in those individuals. However, there are real social and economic benefits to hiring an ex-offender.
“I have met some extremely hard-working and ambitious individuals, who just like anyone else want to make something of themselves. At CSS, our job is support them to acquire the skills, tools, and knowledge to re-integrate into society and build the foundations for brighter future.
“We have worked extremely hard to develop our prison programme and create an offering that has an opportunity for everyone – whatever their interests may be. Everyone deserves a second chance.”
One of the establishments we deliver in highlighted how it has been a pleasure to work with CSS. They said: “It is a pleasure to work with an organisation that understands how difficult and challenging a prison environment can be and adapts to problems that can naturally arise in this environment. Student feedback has always been positive, and there is always a high pass rate for those who attend.”