Skills for Work
Skills for Work, or education, training and employment work, can be included in a low, medium or high level Activity Requirement, determined at post sentence assessment depending on offender need.
Around half of offenders supervised by the National Probation Service (NPS) have very poor basic skills, higher than the estimated 20% of the general population. This contributes to high unemployment rates. Research suggests that employment is the single most effective way to reduce re-offending.
West Yorkshire Probation, along with its partners, delivers a Skills for Work programme of activities to improve the skills and employment of offenders in the community.
It aims to:
- Improve literacy, numeracy and language skills.
- Improve vocational skills.
- Increase the number of ex-offenders gaining and maintaining work.
Skills for Life - literacy and numeracy
Offenders' literacy and numeracy skills are screened at post sentence assessment.
Referrals are made for a full assessment from the specialist Education Training and Employment Unit. This determines the skills level, after which a more detailed diagnostic assessment takes place.
Offenders can attend tuition in a range of settings, for example at local colleges of further education, a probation office or approved premises (probation hostel).
Offenders are encouraged to take national tests (at level 1 and 2) or gain awards at entry levels.
There are special arrangements for offenders who speak English as a second language or who are dyslexic.
Vocational Skills learning
As well as Skills for Life provision, offenders are able to access vocational courses. These can be taster sessions or long term courses where learners work towards full level 1 and 2 awards in a variety of skills including construction, catering and IT.
These courses are delivered by West Yorkshire Probation and a variety of partner agencies.
Skills for Work programme (S4W)
This employment preparation and motivational programme aims to equip offenders with the skills they need to find and keep work. The motivational aspect encourages offenders to adopt a pro-work attitude, to work cooperatively with others, to deal with difficult situations and to problem solve at work.
The employment preparation strand teaches how and when to disclose offences, interview techniques, telephone techniques, communication skills, application forms and CVs.
We work with JobCentre Plus and others to identify potential employers and training providers across the area. We:
- emphasise motivation and commitment
- emphasise that we have overseen the development of skills
- encourage employers to offer interviews
We also commission specific courses, such as NVQ in catering, based on work with partners to understand the potential skills gaps.
West Yorkshire Probation works in partnership with West Yorkshire Skills Funding Agency (SFA) to ensure offenders have a wide range of learning opportunities. The SFA is the main funder for Skills for Life activities.
West Yorkshire Probation also works with a range of local providers, voluntary organisations and further education colleges, including:
- Leeds College of Building
- Bradford, Calderdale, Wakefield, Leeds City Colleges, Dewsbury and Huddersfield College
- JobCentre Plus
- Next Steps
- SOVA (Supporting Others through Volunteer Action)