What is believed to be the UK’s first ever aerial window cleaning training academy has launched at Her Majesty’s Prison and Young Offender Institution, Isis, in a move to tackle the ongoing UK skills shortage while helping to reduce reoffending.
The Aerial Window Cleaning Academy trains people serving the final six to 12 months of their sentence at HMP and YOI Isis to scale and clean high-rise buildings. With a focus on rehabilitation, the academy provides the opportunity to obtain a qualification that can be transferred into employment following release.
The first of its kind across the UK, the Aerial Window Cleaning Academy is a result of a partnership between Landsec, London-based charity Bounce Back and cleaning services company, NJC (Not Just Cleaning Ltd) - and is backed by the Ministry of Justice.
According to the Ministry of Justice, rehabilitation initiatives like the academy will help to cut the £15 billion annual cost of reoffending. Ex-offenders in employment are up to 9% less likely to commit further crimes. At present, however, only 17% of offenders are employed one year after release.
Bounce Back has helped over 1000 people through its programmes across five London prisons and local communities. The charity’s programme has a re-offending rate of less than 12%.
Fran Findlater, founder and CEO of Bounce Back, said: "Our objective is to offer an end-to-end service of skills training, bespoke support for individuals and employment in order to reduce re-offending and support the government’s rehabilitation strategy. Working with partners in the industry such as Landsec and NJC in this new venture will help to address a skills shortage in response to employer needs, while giving people a second chance to fulfil their potential."
NJC reinforced the role rehabilitation has in supporting the UK job market. Paul Crilly, managing director at NJC, said: “As the UK approaches the threshold of full employment, NJC is committed to helping those groups furthest from the jobs market, including ex-offenders, into mainstream employment, and we are delighted to have developed this training academy.”
Miles Webber, corporate affairs and sustainability director at Landsec, said: “Breaking down barriers that prevent people from finding employment is a core part of our sustainability programme. We’re proud to be joining forces with our partners to continue to create opportunities that help get more people back into work, building a stronger future for them, our customers and our communities.”
Prisons Minister, Rory Stewart, said: “We know that offenders who secure employment upon release are much more likely to turn their backs on crime, making our society and communities safer. That is why earlier this year we launched our employment and education strategy to harness the power of work to change lives and cut reoffending. This academy at HMP Isis is an excellent example of delivering on that pledge - it will train prisoners in key work skills needed by local businesses and give offenders the chance they need to begin a new chapter.”
Landsec will continue its work with Bounce Back and Not Just Cleaning as they look to open a new construction academy in HMP Leeds in the next financial year.