Prisoners set to get job-ready thanks to Virgin Trains

Virgin Trains pilot prisoner training programme
Credit: Virgin Trains

Virgin Trains has announced that it has launched the first in-prison employability training programme.

This is aimed at building up the workplace skills that prisoners need to make them job-ready on the day of release.

The three-week employment and business course have been first run at HMP Styal, a women’s prison near Manchester, in partnership with prison education and training provider Novus.

It is expected to be rolled out at other prisons on Virgin’s west coast route over the next year.

It is believed to be the only privately-run training course which focusses on the so-called “soft skills”, which includes building confidence, time-keeping and managing workplace relationships.

At the end of the programme, trainees are guaranteed an interview with Virgin Trains as well as being taken through a mock interview in preparation for the real thing.

Three courses involving around 80 hours of training and homework have been piloted, with the latest group of trainees graduating on October 5 in specially-made Virgin Trains graduation gowns. Of the 16 trainees on the first two courses, nearly half have been offered permanent positions.

What did the officials say?

Kathryn Wildman, Talent Acquisition Manager for Virgin Trains, said:

“I’m so proud to be launching this prison training programme here today to spread opportunity and demonstrate our commitment to recruiting and training former offenders. We know that hiring from prisons has meant that we’ve benefitted from access to great talent and we’re keen to see more businesses do the same. At Virgin Trains we want to hire the best talent no matter what their background and we hope that this course will help people with convictions find jobs and give a bright future for them as employees.”

Prisons Minister Rory Stewart said:

“I’m delighted to see the launch of this programme as I believe passionately that through work, people can turn their backs on crime and start a new chapter in their lives. The recent launch of our employment and education strategy shows our commitment to getting offenders into work, and I want to see more employers really stepping up and looking past an offender’s conviction to their future potential. I believe that by supporting positive projects like this, we will help to make prisons places of hope and aspiration that propel offenders into employment, and ultimately help to reduce reoffending.”

Barbara McDonough, Chief Operating Officer for Novus said:

“We are delighted to be working with Virgin Trains in supporting the women here at HMP Styal to build on the skills they need to find work on release. We know the value of employment in reducing re-offending. By creating more opportunities for the women to find work, we can help them to build their self-esteem and raise their aspirations, helping on the path to a crime-free future.”

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Michael Holden avatar
I have had an interest in Railways for as long as I can remember. I am a member of a number of heritage railways and actively volunteer at 2 of them. I enjoy all types of railways, real life, model and simulations. I started RailAdvent in 2014 and am the main editor of the site.