HMP Highpoint and City & Guilds are committed to helping individuals with an offending background overcome barriers to employment on leaving prison. Training programmes delivered by HMP Highpoint’s Rail Centre of Excellence are effectively reducing reoffending rates while providing access to sustainable employment in the rail sector.

Following our recent panel discussion (12 March) at HMP Highpoint, we co–hosted a site visit (22 April) with the Ministry of Justice and invited journalists to showcase our ‘Rail Centre of Excellence’ programme.

Funded by Department for Education’s Skills Bootcamps and facilitated by City & Guilds Training, the scheme equips prisoners with industry-standard training to lay and maintain rail track, while guaranteeing them employment on release.

The journalists were taken on a tour of the site’s new electrical training facilities, installed to train ex-offenders in electrical engineering skills.

Two ex-offenders, Ryan Hull and Othman Karim, were on hand to demonstrate their Track Operative skills and explain to reporters how City & Guilds’ training programme has helped them turn their lives around, with the prospect of a future, on the outside.

Talking about his experience on the programme, ex-offender Othman Karim, who now works on the Euston railway line for Vital, said: “I was able to meet employers and I studied the course and learned the skills, so on release it was all up-hill.

“It’s the best thing ever, I wouldn’t change it, and I can’t see myself ever going back to my old lifestyle.”

Alex Pond, Executive Director of City & Guilds Training, represented City & Guilds at the event.  Alex was interviewed by Lucy Burton from the Daily Telegraph and Zoie O’Brien from BBC Look East.

Talking about the skills challenges faced by ex-offenders, Alex said: “Everyone has skills shortages. We have an oversubscribed prison community willing to work. What the country needs to ensure is that each prison offers a different type of training.

“The lack of opportunity for some of these people is quite depressing. If you change someone’s life in here, the social impact is huge.”

Since its introduction, the programme has delivered ten rail track skills courses, with 107 men successfully completing the course, and a success rate of 81% going into employment.

If you are an employer interested in learning how you can partner with City & Guilds Training on our work in prisons, please contact us.