From Crime to the Construction Industry


Developing talent

Statistics taken from the latest studies in 2018 reflect that there are approximately 84,000 prisoners across England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This figure is not only indicative of the prevalence of crime but it also highlights the fundamental requirement for a supportive approach towards offenders when they enter the reform justice system; this is so that those that are capable of returning to society are able to both contribute newly acquired skills and work towards rebuilding a positive and fulfilling future.

At Opportunity for Change, we possess a strong insight into the variety of opportunities and pathways that can lead to new beginnings for ex-offenders. Preparing for work enables us to work with offenders to develop both their interpersonal and intrapersonal skills so that they can learn how to communicate in a professional manner and handle a range of new situations. With a non-discriminatory approach, we guide offenders as they approach the end of their sentence so that they can actively acquire skills to return to the working world. We also recognise that many offenders enjoy engaging in practical and hands-on roles and as a result of the increasing demand for workers within the construction industry, we offer offenders the ability to learn the requisite soft and hard skills for the trade. During the course, there are recognisable qualifications that offenders will be able to achieve with us: these consist of Health and Safety Awareness, Site Supervisors Training Scheme, Risk Assessment Workshop, COSHH Awareness and Work at Height.

Challenging stigma

Due to the growing demand for skilled workers in the construction industry, alongside the progressive and open-minded approach of companies such as Interserve, Saint-Gobain and Kier, opportunities for ex offenders within this trade are perpetually growing. In order to meet Infrastructure housing in the next five years, 158,000 construction workers are needed and the requirement to find skilled workers has become immediate. Many companies are not only willing to work with offenders but they are also providing the chance for them to build an entirely new career. Thanks to campaigns such as ‘Ban the Box’, several companies are now either considering to remove the box where ex-offenders must declare their criminal convictions and if possible, also eliminate this check from later-on in the recruitment process.

Building a better future

Once many offenders begin to engage in an action plan and ex-offender programs, they can become increasingly motivated to both work and engage in something new, positive and rewarding. It is vital that from the off-set that self-belief is instilled into the offenders and that they are provided with opportunities to trust and explore their often hidden abilities and talents. Although it can be a highly challenging journey, a combined effort from ourselves and offenders means that between Opportunity for Change and Her Majesty’s Prison Service, we consistently work towards the target of getting reformed and drug-free ex-offenders into the construction industry upon completion of their sentence. The structure that ex-offender programs provides and the level of commitment that is expected ensures that offenders have a realistic understanding of what will be required of them when they work for a future company. Studies have reflected that when offenders are offered a clear pathway and job opportunities, once they have completed their sentences, this can contribute to reducing recidivism by up to fifty percent. To avoid offenders returning back to their previous lifestyles, being provided with the chance to work and be an active member of society can help to create a completely new life.