Apprentices: Prisoners

Department for Education written question – answered on 2nd March 2020.

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Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Chair, Education Committee, Chair, Education Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will take steps to introduce prison apprenticeships with the same standards as other apprenticeships.

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Chair, Education Committee, Chair, Education Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on (a) developing, (b) overseeing and (c) monitoring a prison apprenticeship programme.

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Chair, Education Committee, Chair, Education Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will hold discussions with employers on implementing an apprenticeship program for prisoners.

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Chair, Education Committee, Chair, Education Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of sectors that would be suitable for a potential prison apprenticeship scheme.

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Chair, Education Committee, Chair, Education Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the length of time required to develop models of delivery for prison apprenticeships.

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Chair, Education Committee, Chair, Education Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of an apprenticeship scheme for prisoners.

Photo of Gillian Keegan Gillian Keegan The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Apprenticeships are paid jobs which include high-quality on-the-job and off-the-job training. All apprentices must hold a contract of employment, which means they are not currently available to prisoners.

The government recognises how important it is that those in custody are given the support, training, and routes into employment that best meets the needs of individuals, and their future employers. The department’s apprenticeship programme is supporting this by working with the Department for Work and Pensions, Youth Offending teams and local employers, to consider pilot schemes which promote and encourage apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities to ex-offenders and those at risk of offending aged 16-24.

The Ministry of Justice also supports a wider range of provision to support prisoners into employment on release and governors can now commission specific provision aimed at meeting the needs of their prisoners and local labour markets. This includes the New Futures Network, created in 2018 to broker partnerships between prisons and employers, helping businesses fill skills gaps and prisoners to find employment on release. Information, advice and guidance services are also available in prisons to help prisoners identify career aims and work towards achieving these.

The Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice are at the early stages of exploring the potential costs and benefits of the various options for a potential future prison apprenticeships programme to complement existing schemes. We would expect that a prison apprenticeship programme will need to use the same standards and frameworks as all apprenticeships.

At this time, we have not made any estimates of the time required to develop models of delivery for prison apprenticeships. We will consider any discussions with employers and Cabinet colleagues once we have first established the practicalities and value of a potential prison apprenticeship programme.

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