Magilligan Prison is helping to address a shortage in the number of qualified and skilled metal workers in Northern Ireland.
With the prospect of a job when they complete their sentence, prisoners at the Limavady facility are being taught Fabrication and Welding NVQ courses by North West Regional College.
Already five prisoners have been placed in jobs on release in a pilot programme which offers prisoners training and qualification in Metal and Tungsten Inert Gas (MIG and TIG) welding, as well as Manual Metal Arc (MMA) and Oxyacetylene (OXY) welding.
Magilligan Prison Governor Richard Taylor said: “The welding courses at Magilligan have been very successful. Since January we’ve had more than 74 accreditations for prisoners in both Level 1 and 2 of the vocational training which is being provided. And five prisoners, on their release, have secured jobs as a result of the skills and qualifications attained.
“The metalwork courses, as well as 45 other fully accredited programmes of study at Magilligan, provide prisoners with a daily routine, constructive activity but also importantly an opportunity to take part in meaningful work which may eventually lead to a job once they leave the prison.”
Governor Taylor added: “The Northern Ireland Prison Service will continue to challenge people in our care and support them to change. Encouraging them through vocational skills will help them reintegrate when they are released, reducing the risk of re-offending and help build a safer community.”
Dr Damian O’Kane, North West Regional College Head of Prison Education, said: “In collaboration with the Prison Service we have tailored our curriculum to respond to many of the key skills shortage areas within the Northern Ireland construction industry. Students are encouraged and assisted to develop their knowledge and industrial skills and to obtain nationally recognised qualifications. As a result their employment opportunities and prospects are greatly enhanced.”