HL Deb 14 September 2001 vol 627 cc3-4WA
Lord Hoyle

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What training is given prior to release to prisoners, particularly long-term inmates; and which outside agencies or industrialists are helping prisons provide courses to prepare prisoners for possible further employment. [HL642]

Lord Rooker

The Government are committed to increasing educational attainment by prisoners and linking this to employment and learning opportunities on release. The Prison Service provides a range of training to equip prisoners with the relevant skills and qualifications. This includes provision of basic skills, such as literacy and numeracy, and vocational training for particular trades and other occupations. In 2000–01, more than 50,000 nationally recognised qualifications were achieved by prisoners, including around 12,500 literacy and numeracy qualifications at level two, often helping to make them employable for the first time.

The delivery of this training involves Prison Service instructional officers, further education colleges, learning and skills councils, businesses, industry bodies and others. Since April 2001 this work has been taken forward within a new partnership between the Prison Service and the Department for Education and Skills to improve the education and training of prisoners. It is also connected to the Prison Service's Custody to Work programme, which aims to double the number of prisoners getting jobs on release by April 2004. Better equipped prisoners for available jobs is an important element of that programme, together with a more effective engagement with the business and voluntary sectors and with other agencies, including the Employment Service and the National Probation Service.