A SERVING prisoner is looking for backing from rail, civil engineering and plant firms to set up training courses to prepare inmates for careers on the outside.
Martin Dunne, a former plant operator currently serving a three-year sentence at HMP Wayland in Thetford, Norfolk, has already received expressions of interest from local contractors Jackson Civil Engineering and May Gurney, Tube PPP company Metronet and plant firms Gamble and Quattro.
He told Construction News: 'I hope to be able to set up a rail workshop at Way land, where inmates can attend a short course to gain the basic certification to work as track workers.'
Under the scheme, prisoners would take short courses to gain the PTS rail safety card, as well as training for dumpers and forklifts.
They would also have access to a resettlement expert and a jobcentre advisor to help arrange CVs and interviews.
Mr Dunne said: 'A long-term college course or training is not always ideal for prisoners on release, as they need income and financial security quite quickly to give them any chance of leading a bet ter life.
'The Government is aiming to cut reoffending rates by 2010 and this could surely help them achieve it.'
He is applying to the Prince's Trust and the Lloyds TSB Foundation for funding for the courses, which would cost an estimated £80,000 in total.
Interested construction firms will be invited to an open day at HMP Wayland to meet Mr Dunne and view facilities.
If the course gets off the ground, he hopes to establish the projects at open prisons, where inmates are allowed out to work on temporary day release.
The Foundation Training Company, a charity organisation which runs nine resettlement workshops in the south-east, is supporting Mr Dunne's scheme. Project manager Matt Page said: 'Wayland is a training prison and we already carry out training courses in plumbing, bricklaying, welding and painting and decorating.
We can put people through a course to get a CSCS card and give them the application forms for a CIS4 card.'
n Training company A4e is launching a new service to train former prisoners for the construction industry following the completion of two successful pilot schemes.
The Offenders' Learning and Skills Service, a partnership between the Department for Education and Skills, the Home Office and the Learning and Skills Council, will focus on building vocational skills for the construction industry.
A4e chief executive Mark Lovell said: 'Statistics suggest that taking part in basic skills programmes could contribute to a reduction in reoffending of around 12 per cent.'