Celebrating the power of skills focused prison rehabilitation and new beginnings this spring

How City & Guilds is supporting skills development for prisons and prison leavers

18 March 2024

The vernal equinox, or spring to most of us, will soon be here. A time for fresh starts and new beginnings, and the perfect reason to celebrate the transformative effect of education and training in prisons.

At City & Guilds we’re passionate about the power skills development has for people, at all stages of life, and our Royal Charter inspires us to ensure that the skills development opportunities we provide are always in the public interest. For a large majority of the prison population and for our society, skills have the potential to be an even bigger game-changer due to the pervasive education deficit amongst prison populations.

Finding ways to close education and qualification gaps

It’s a sobering fact that 47% of the adult prison population lack any type of qualification, in part due to 59% having been regular truants from school and 42% having been expelled or permanently excluded. In addition to this one in three of the prison population are neurodiverse, compared to one in eight people in society.

Taking this into account it’s little surprise that 68% of the prison population were unemployed in the four weeks before custody. It’s also important to recognise that once their time in prison is over, re-offending is more likely to occur if life chances have stayed the same, or even worsened upon release. The cost of re-offending is high, at approximately £18.1bn every year, and the cost to individuals, communities and families has a far-reaching ripple effect.

Promoting skills development through collaboration

City & Guilds and the trusted education providers we partner with working across more than 120 prisons in England and Wales, have a commitment to changing that. We work alongside our City & Guilds Foundation and charity partners, and through our specialist City & Guilds Training approved providers to deliver specialist high quality skills training directly in prisons. Training that leads to guaranteed employment on release and that is supported in collaboration with employers to ensure a successful transition from prison to living back in society.

Together, we’re creating sustainable employment opportunities for prisoners developing the skills that industries need, for more than 60,000 learners in adult and youth prison estates. We’re also making a demonstrable contribution to lowering offending rates, not only boosting mental health, confidence and contributing to more positive behaviours, but directly reducing re-offending by 2-4 people for every 100 participants that register for a City & Guilds course.

We hope you enjoy our ‘Spring is in the air’ spotlight and are inspired as we are by the stories of prison populations, whose lives are being changed through skills focused rehabilitation. We’ll be back in the Spring with more to celebrate.

Watch this video to hear the experience of one City & Guilds Training rail track learner, rehabilitated from HMP Highpoint, and now flourishing in sustained employment in industry.

Learn how our Education partner BounceBack is ensuring skills gained in prison are recognised and trusted by employers.

Find out more about how our education partner The Clink are pioneering Hospitality apprenticeships for the prison population.

Read more about what impact the £10m of social value represents through our City & Guilds Foundation £1M Big Ideas fund and learn what’s next for the City & Guilds Foundation and the charity partners we work with.