The College has a remarkable record having helped 300 students into real jobs after leaving custody. Work placements have been confirmed for 44 others and more than a thousand have had job interviews before release, with 100 others also finding similar places post-release.
Sally Alexander, Executive Director for Offender Learning at Milton Keynes College says: “It’s only when learners, staff and employers are brought together like this that you properly see what incredible work is being done. Every individual who finds real employment after serving a custodial sentence is one less potential re-offender and one more tax payer so the benefits for society are perhaps even greater than those for the individual. Staff and learners work so hard all year that it’s great to be able to congratulate them at an event like this. It’s also a chance for those employers who support us to see how valuable their contributions are.”
One of the award winners, described by the judges as inspirational, said learning from Milton Keynes College lecturers in prison had changed his life: “When I first started my confidence was at a low. I was at a dead end. The lecturer made me come out of my shell and become a better person.” Over a three-year period he has accrued more than 30 different certificates including National Vocation Qualifications in Professional Cookery, Health & Safety, Work Assessors courses and more.
“A lot of people get the opportunity to learn while they’re in prison but they don’t want to take it up so when they come out it’s no work, no life. It’s very important so you can restart your life and keep out of trouble. I’m proud of myself going from where I was to where I am now. I haven’t changed so much as developed a lot, learnt a lot of skills although my confidence could still be a bit better. In the end I’ve had a lot of experience and the whole point is not to come back.”
Having previously had no hope of employment on release he has a number of jobs already lined up for when he does leave prison. “Greene King has offered me a position, one of my friends has offered me construction work and that’s not the end of it because there are a few job fairs coming up too. I’d like to stay in catering though because that’s what I do best.”
The College already has a number of big employers on-board including household names like Boots, Timpson and National Express, but it’s always looking for more. Sally Alexander says: “The benefits to employers are tremendous. The people we match them with know better than most how valuable it is to have a job. They know how lucky they are to get one and are generally prepared to work incredibly hard to prove they deserve it. The feedback we get from employers is that they make excellent dedicated workers and, ‘can we have some more, please?’”