Prisoners to fill skills gap


A new project is looking to train prison inmates in network installation to help fill the skills gap in the area and reduce re-offending rates.

The Academy programme, developed by a public-private partnership called Working Ventures UK (WVUK), is being delivered by Cisco and the prison service.

Successful trainees will be employed on release from their prison sentence, or offered additional training both of which are expected to reduce the rate of re-offending.

At the launch of the scheme at HMP Wandsworth, Prisons Minister David Hanson said: "Reforming offenders so they can positively contribute to society as well as being punished for their crimes by denying them their freedom is what prison is about and what both communities and businesses demand."

According to WVUK, demand for data and network cabling installers outstrips the number of available skilled workers by 20 per cent - leaving a shortfall of some 61,000 such people in the UK alone.

Scot Gardner, director of public sector for Cisco UK and Ireland, said: "The UK has a shortage of information technology skills. We believe it's imperative that private and public sectors continue to work together - industry, government and academia - in innovative ways to expand the available skill base to ensure the UK prospers long-term. The Academy at HMP Wandsworth will develop real-world, in-demand skills helping to prepare inmates for the workplace and therefore reducing re-offending."