Irish prison inmates will be taught how to retrofit homes before release

Irish prison inmates will be taught how to retrofit homes before release

IRISH prisoners will be taught how to retrofit homes before they are released back into society.

A new pilot scheme will see inmates undertake a training programme designed to give them skills to gain employment when they leave prison.

The initiative went live in Midlands Prison, a medium security facility for adult males, in Co. Laois yesterday (February 26).

There inmates who are close to their release date will be trained to complete the Retrofit Skills Course QQI Level 5 component award.

The course will also be offered to inmates in Wheatfield Prison in Dublin, with the aim of giving “the individual the skillset to gain well-paid meaningful employment in the area of retrofitting” a spokesperson for the Department of Higher and Further Education has confirmed.

“This programme will be offered to those who are close to release – and will equip them with the training and skills they need to become active participants in the jobs market,” Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said.

“These courses will give them the skills they need to get sustainable jobs on release, while also creating skilled workers to help deliver on our targets under Housing for All,” he added.

The programme has been rolled out in Midlands Prison in Co. Laois this week

Laois Offaly Education and Training Board’s National Construction Centre, Mount Lucas has worked closely with the Irish Prison Service over the past year to make the new course available.

The initiative has come from the Prison Education Taskforce, which is chaired by Minister Harris and Minister of State at the Department of Justice, James Browne.

It comprises agencies such as the Irish Prison Service, SOLAS, the Probation Service and the Education and Training Boards.

"Education and training allow people to see alternative choices, a different future and to move away from criminality,” Minister Browne said.

"We can’t underestimate the importance of taking an employment focused view of education in our prisons,” he added.

“Retrofitting is a service that is in big demand in Ireland at the moment so I am very pleased that Minster Harris and I have been able to secure this important new training programme.”

He explained: "This qualification will have a positive impact on the individual themselves and their families by supporting people accessing gainful employment.

“The programme will also be of big benefit to communities by increasing the availability of retrofitting professionals to help homeowners safeguard against the cost of living and help the environment by improving energy efficiency in their homes."

Responding to the launch of the new programme, Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) Executive Director Saoirse Brady called for the governemt to go further to support prisoners.

"We know that giving people opportunities when they've come out of prison is key to ensuring that they're less likely to reoffend and that results in safer communities,” she said.

“The other piece is we know there are a lot of people who are entering prison from homelessness and exiting prison into homelessness,” she added.

“While employment is key we need to have a holistic approach to this, and ensure that all the supports are put in place for people leaving prison.

She added that offering training for employment is “really positive” but claimed “this is just one piece of the puzzle".