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Manufacturing our third national recruitment drive with MakeUK

National Sector Lead, Lance Harris, reflects on the third, sector-specific recruitment fortnight, Unlocking Manufacturing, in partnership with MakeUK

Unlocking Manufacturing took place across three prisons in England where manufacturing workshops make up a significant part of the prison regime. These are HMPs Highdown, Ranby and Wymott. These prisons also manufacture goods for internal prison needs and service commercial customers.

To ensure this recruitment drive would lead to the best possible employment outcomes for serving prisoners and prison leavers, New Futures Network partnered with MakeUK, Britain’s largest and most influential manufacturing trade body. Their members were invited into the participating prisons to showcase the facilities and encourage them to recruit prison leavers to meet their skills and labour shortages.

Senior management from twenty-four commercial manufacturers such as Kyocera, Morgan Furniture and A.J Wells & Sons Ltd. They met our colleagues working in the prisons and prisoners, to explore how businesses might outsource production opportunities to prisons, to recruit job-ready prisoners on release on temporary licence (ROTL) and employ prisoners on their release too.

At HMP Wymott, 8 prisoners joined us for a networking lunch and began making links with their potential future employers. It was an opportunity for prisoners to make connections with our Prison Employment Leads – the staff who support prisoners prepare for work, interviews and employment. One guest commented that he didn’t even realise he was speaking to a prisoner; such was the level of enthusiasm and professionalism!

What was most evident was how impressed the MakeUK guests were with our prison workshops and the quality of workmanship displayed. 8 in 10 employers who attended made a pledge to work with New Futures Network to explore future collaboration in more depth.

The anonymous survey feedback from participants was so motivating and included:

The workshops were well organised, had good processes and a great experience for prisoners. Industries should know more about this opportunity.
Excellent day, well delivered and an interesting avenue for finding new people!
Participating in the Unlocking Manufacturing campaign was fantastic – from the New Futures Network team to the prisoners and staff, it provided such a vital insight into the opportunities available through prison industries.

Manufacturing futures

Whilst these three events spearheaded our month of Unlocking Manufacturing, New Futures Network also presented to the British Plastics Federation and the Food & Drink industry members of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, and were invited to join a panel at a large MakeUK Conference. It was a great opportunity for us to give an overview of the support provided to employers who partner with prisons, the facilities available in prison industries workshops, and the life-changing potential for someone taking up work.

The real work now starts – ensuring we capture and capitalise on the connections made from Unlocking Manufacturing and getting ready for Unlocking Retail, our next Unlocking campaign in June.

By Lance Harris, Senior National Employment Manager – Manufacturing Sector