People and processesDigital SkillsDigital skills for prisoners under a new pilot scheme

Digital skills for prisoners under a new pilot scheme

New funding for pilot scheme will render digital skills for prisoners and create a system where each prisoner is set on a path to employment

Coding will be taught in prisons to provide digital skills for prisoners under a new £100k pilot scheme to help carefully vetted prisoners learn digital skills. The funding has been made as part of a £1.2m drive to help underrepresented groups get jobs.

CODE 4000, an organisation that works with carefully vetted offenders has been given new funding by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) following a successful trial at HMP Humber that was modelled on the Last Mile project in the San Quentin prison in California.

The increased funding will enable CODE 4000 to expand this scheme to HMP Holme House and reach more than a thousand more offenders.

A new employment hub in Sheffield will also be set up using the funding. This hub will provide support, mentor and train graduates once they have left prison, as the organisation looks to achieve its aim of developing a network of coding workshops in UK prisons.

Digital transformation is high on the agenda for UK prisons. Last week, iris scanning and facial recognition biometric technology were successfully trialled at three prisons in the UK.

Education and Employment Strategy

The government has launched the Education and Employment Strategy to create a system where each prisoner is set on a path to employment from the outset.

Minister for Digital, Margot James said: “The Government is committed to stopping the cycle of reoffending and a valuable asset to prevent recidivism is employment.

“Equipping offenders with coding skills will help them into life-changing work and give them a path to a hugely rewarding career. We have a world-leading digital economy and this new funding will help keep people out of prison so they can give back to their local communities as well as be a boost for our tech businesses.”

Prisons Minister Rory Stewart added: “I want to see more offenders learning the kind of workplace skills which can set them on a path to a better future, which is precisely why we launched our Education & Employment Strategy last year.

“Code 4000 is an excellent example of what can be achieved through education and training in prison. It not only helps offenders turn their lives around but also benefits society by reducing the chances of their reoffending, and I am delighted to see it receive this further funding.”

Neil Barnby, Workshop Instructor, HMP Humber, CODE 4000 commented: “Code4000 workshops are reducing re-offending at a measurable rate, because we keep in touch with our graduates. We are constantly seeing success after success.

“When I started teaching in prisons I thought that if I could change just one life, turn one person away from crime then I have achieved something truly marvellous. I look back on the years that I have been teaching coding in prisons and can see all the lives I have had a part in changing for the better.

“Not just the ex-offenders but their families and, more importantly their children. It is an enormous sense of achievement and with this funding I look forward to changing even more lives.”

Digital Skills Innovation Fund

In addition to the prison skills initiative, funds exceeding £1m have been penciled in to help people from underrepresented groups gain the skills they need for digital roles. The money will be used to fund regional and local initiatives to help people from underrepresented groups gain the skills they need for digital roles.

The following Local Enterprise Partnerships will receive a share of the money to invest in their local communities:

  1. West of England Combined Authority
  2. Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire (D2N2) LEP working with Sheffield City Region and supported by Leicestershire LEP and Greater Lincolnshire LEP
  3. Lancashire LEP
  4. Heart of the South West LEP

Programmes being funded include those targeted at helping women from disadvantaged backgrounds, people with autism and people living in lower socioeconomic areas. New training courses, workshops and seminars led by tech experts will be part of the funding to help people learn the skills to succeed in roles such as data analysts, programmers, software developers, and digital marketeers.

Three new Local Digital Skills Partnerships

Three new Local Digital Skills Partnerships (Local DSPs) will help people get the skills they need to thrive in the digital economy.

Local DSPs bring together regional businesses, charities, local authorities, and academics. These entities increase the digital skills of individuals and organisations in their region. Three launched last year in Lancashire, Heart of the South West and West Midlands Combined Authority.

Local Digital Skills Partnerships will be set up in:

  • The South East
  • Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
  • Cheshire and Warrington.

This takes the number of people with access to the programme to more than 10m. Additionally, it boosting digital and technical skills, job opportunities and productivity across the regions.

Digital Skills Partnership has already delivered more than 2.5 million free training opportunities. These training are in areas such as basic online skills, cybersecurity, and coding.

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