Building on their commitment to Ban the Box, international construction and support services group Interserve is supporting young offenders to gain employment on their release from HMP Brinsford through a Facilities Management Academy.
The academy is the first of its kind for the industry, preparing offenders to work in roles that Interserve need to fill, such as cleaning.
Interserve’s top tip for working with ex-offenders
The most important change to make is a cultural one across the business. It’s about being brave, seeing the opportunity, and embedding a culture of second chances.
How the academy works
The academy was born out of Interserve’s involvement with the Reducing Reoffending through Employment Network. Working in close partnership with Milton Keynes College, a well-established partner with HMP Brinsford, Interserve identifies prisoners with a good record and less than six months on their sentence to take part in the academy. All participants who complete the programme are offered an interview with Interserve on release, giving them the best chance to transition from prison to employment.
The programme is structured around a six-week accredited cleaning programme, finishing with a week of ‘core skills’ training required for working at Interserve. Alongside this, a representative from Interserve delivers sessions to build soft skills - including understanding company values, communications skills and teamwork - with a view to preparing prisoners for the workplace on release.
Interserve needs a continuous stream of skilled workers to fill vacancies and fulfil contracts. The company also seeks to have a positive impact on the communities in which it operates, and supporting people from disadvantaged groups into sustainable employment forms a key part of this. Scott Hill, HR Director – Commercial at Interserve, believes these two objectives go hand in hand:
‘First and foremost, it’s about doing the right thing. But also the reality is that by doing this we open up an untapped talent pool. Having visited a number of prisons there are some hugely talented and motivated people with skills that suit the Facilities Management industry.’
So, the Facilities Management Academy allows Interserve to train prisoners with the skills needed to work for the company, whilst also helping to broaden their talent pool and diversify their workforce. This results in tangible savings on recruitment costs, as well as savings for society. And Interserve is finding that there’s wider value for the company too, as their commitment to working with ex-offenders is helping it to win contracts.
At just 22, one young man is already putting his new skills to use, having secured a full-time job with the company. Interserve has been able to make a very meaningful intervention at a crucial stage in his life, increasing his likelihood of a future free from crime. Regional Trainer Michelle Thearle explains:
‘These are young men who haven’t had the best start in life, or been given the right chances. Seeing them build confidence through the course is fantastic, but then being able to offer them a real, tangible opportunity on release makes all the difference.’