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Hays looks to fill skills void with young offenders

Construction’s biggest recruitment company is targeting prisoners to help tackle the industry’s chronic skills shortage.

Hays has linked up with affordable housing firm Lovell and is finalising details of a plan to work with young offenders at Onley Prison, near Rugby, to bring them into the industry.

The prison runs three workshops to give offenders relevant construction skills, split into multi-skill, bricks and concrete.

Hays plans to run the programme alongside these workshops and provide prisoners with advice and skills to go for job interviews once released. Lovell’s presence ensures positions are available.

Hays managing director Tim Cook said: “This is an important scheme and if successful it may be a small step to combating the skills shortage.

“Some offenders may have committed minor crimes which doesn’t prevent them from being a good worker – rehabilitating offenders is an important responsibility for all of us in the corporate environment.

“We hope this scheme will provide them with the skills and the opportunities to work within construction.”

Hays is meeting prison representatives over the next few weeks to finalise details of the scheme.
The initiative has been coordinated by the Construction Youth Trust and is the first of its kind for Hays and the trust. The CYT secured funding for the project from the Nationwide Foundation’s Investor Programme in March.

A CYT regional coordinator will directly liaise with prison staff to select offenders appropriate to go into the industry and who are nearing release.

Onley Prison, a former borstal, was reclassified as a Category C and young offenders prison in 2004 and is home to 580 prisoners.

Mr Cook said Hays would not rule out running the programme in other prisons.