Give jobs to young offenders Mayor urges construction industry

14 March 2011

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson will today urge construction bosses to employ young people and especially ex-offenders, when carrying out major work in the capital.

The Mayor has highlighted the need for more job opportunities for young Londoners, particularly those struggling to turn their lives around. Research shows that ex-offenders who secure employment are 50 per cent less likely to re-offend, but many find it hard to get work with criminal records.

With huge development projects in the run up to 2012 and beyond, construction and building is an attractive career option for many young people. The Mayor is ensuring opportunities are available on the Greater London Authority’s construction projects and wants to see more schemes like the Olympic Delivery Authority’s pilot programme, where they are providing work placements for up to 60 ex-offenders on the Olympic Park to help open up permanent employment opportunities in the construction industry.

At today’s event the Mayor will meet ex-offenders fresh from a construction training course run by the Mayor’s Office and the Prince’s Trust, including Shingai Musonza who is now working on the Crossrail project.

The Mayor Boris Johnson said: “Ex-offenders deserve a second chance to turn their lives around and make an honest living. I’m asking the construction sector to get on board and offer our young people real opportunities on the abundance of exciting construction contracts we have in the capital.

“In these tough economic times it is hard for everyone out of work, but teenagers with criminal records often hit a brick wall. For every person we keep out of the prison system we potentially save tax payers £50,000 a year. I commend the companies already making great progress and encourage all firms to help us cut crime and offer work to ex-offenders.“

20 yr old Shingai Musonza served a two year prison sentence before successfully completing  the ‘Get into Construction’ training course organised by the Mayor and youth charity The Prince’s Trust.  Shingai has just started a job as a banksman for on the Crossrail project for construction firm Costain.

Shingai said: “I had always thought of working in the construction industry but didn’t know where to start. On the course, I learnt the skills that I needed to find work and I became really determined to succeed. I was really happy when I found out I got the job. It’s really suited to my skills and I love being outdoors doing something hands-on. I believe that everyone can change, no matter what their background. I’m so grateful to have been given a second chance.”

The Mayor’s Office has worked in partnership with the Prince’s Trust, Probation Service, and training organsiations to deliver the ‘Get Into construction’ training programme for young ex-offenders. Participants were thoroughly screened and assessed by partners to ensure they were motivated, well engaged and ready for work. 

Martina Milburn, chief executive of The Prince’s Trust, said: “Every day at The Prince’s Trust, we meet another young person who has grown up without a positive adult role model or got involved with the wrong crowd, ending up in prison. Too many of these young people leave prison with few aspirations and little hope for the future, so many end up behind bars again.

“Only by giving them the skills and support to turn their lives around through courses like our Get into Construction scheme can we break this cycle and save the economy billions each year. It’s now more important than ever for charities, employers and local authorities to work together, helping young offenders turn their lives around. ”

Speakers at the event will include Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor of Policing, Terry Morgan, Chairman of Crossrail and Dr Mary Harris from the National Grid Young Offender Programme.

Transport for London are currently negotiating up to 60 job placements with construction firms involved in the Shard, which will be the tallest building in Europe, and Tube modernisation programmes over the next year for ex-offenders.

The average cost of a bed in a Young Offenders Institution is £59,000 per annum. Diverting 200 young offenders away from further custodial sentences represents a potential saving of £11.8 million per annum. The Mayor’s Office began working on the rehabilitation of young offenders when the Mayor opened the Heron Unit in Feltham Young Offenders Institute in November 2008, a pioneering resettlement wing. This model has proved so successful that the Mayor has now rolled it out across London for young offenders.

 

Ends


Notes to editors:

  1. For more information on the Mayor’s Heron resettlement unit at Felltham Offenders Institute visit www.london.gov.uk/priorities/crime-community-safety/time-action/project-daedalus
  2. Research on young offenders and employment is taken from the Social Exclusion Unit.