Acorn by Synergie is appealing to construction businesses in Wales and the South West to help people with convictions turn their lives around, and tackle their own skills shortages at the same time.
The UK recruiter has launched a new scheme in partnership with three Welsh prisons and HMP Bristol to offer those nearing the end of their sentence the potential to secure meaningful employment in the construction industry.
The Reconstruct Programme supports people in the last 12 weeks of their sentence, who have shown willingness and an interest in securing a construction role, to equip themselves with the motivation and practical skills they need to re-enter the world of work.
The brainchild of Client Development Director for Acorn, Lawrence Beach, the new scheme already has the backing of UK construction companies including Bouygues UK, Willmott Dixon, ISG PLC and Bam, alongside support from homeless charity The Wallich too.
Lawrence said: “We’ve been working to place people with convictions into employment here at Acorn by Synergie for a number of years now, with outcomes for both clients and candidates proving increasingly successful as a result. The individuals we’ve been working with have an incredible amount of potential and, in many cases, existing skills that come as a real asset to the businesses they end up working with once their sentences come to an end.
“We hope now that by creating an ever wider collective of like-minded organisations across Wales and the South West, we can give confidence to even more people that there is a chance for them to succeed and put something back into their communities following their time in prison, through the launch of the Reconstruct Programme.”
Monthly visits from the Acorn by Synergie team to HMP Swansea, HMP Cardiff, HMP Prescoed and HMP Bristol will take the form of face-to-face sessions establishing the skills, motivations and geographical areas relevant to individuals attending the Reconstruct Programme ahead of their release.
Businesses looking to play their part in the scheme are invited to do so at no cost and without any obligation to employ anyone via Acorn by Synergie, as part of the UK recruiter’s commitment to further supporting sustainable job opportunities for under-represented groups through its Acorn Building Services division.
Harriet Wade, Social Value Manager at ISG PLC, said: “ISG is delighted to support the Reconstruct Network. For a long time now we have championed the benefits of employing people with convictions and the huge potential they can offer. The Network is a fantastic way of linking open minded organisations with these individuals that is time and cost effective.”
Nicola Millard, Senior Social Value Manager at Willmott Dixon added: “At Willmott Dixon, we have always maintained that the best way to improve a person’s life chances is by enabling them to access good quality work. We support the Reconstruct network because it is helping to promote the many capable individuals being released each month that need an organisation to give them a second chance.”
The Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) providing proof individuals have the correct training in place for the work they will be doing is now also being delivered within prisons, meaning candidates looking to get into construction are leaving with a full qualification in place too.
Lawrence continued: “We appreciate that successful recruitment, particularly in the construction sector, often relies on the timescales and location involved, and really feel that by pulling together we can help give both sides a better chance at securing gainful employment in the process.
“Acorn by Synergie also carries out the front-end work on behalf of businesses involved, having already made it our responsibility to visit the prisons included in the Reconstruct Programme and working with teams to get them work ready in the first place.”
“So, the only commitment a company has is to be open minded regarding candidates who might have the necessary skills in place, or be looking for work in the geographical area involved, when it comes to any vacancies they might have available,” Lawrence added.
Picture - ex-prisoner Ray secured a placement and subsequent permanent role with Willmott Dixon following his release from HMP Cardiff.