Leading prison education provider Novus and leading apprenticeship provider Total People, both part of LTE Group have teamed up with national retail chain the Timpson Group to offer one of the first apprenticeships to a serving prisoner.

Under the landmark change to legislation made by the Department for Education and Ministry of Justice, offenders in open prisons are as of this week able to begin an apprenticeship while serving their sentence.

One of the first individuals to benefit from this policy shift is a Novus learner who is embarking on a level 2 apprenticeship in hospitality delivered by Total People, while working as a chef de partie at The Partridge, part of the Timpson Group, in Cheshire.

The apprentice, who is a prisoner at HMPYOI Thorn Cross, will be employed by Timpson, while Total People will provide the training. In addition to the partnership with Timpson and Total People, further Novus learners are also set to commence apprenticeships with brewery and pub chain Greene King, providing a significant statement of intent from Novus to make as many apprenticeships as possible available to its learners.

Peter Cox, Managing Director of Novus, said: “We are delighted that Novus learners are among the first group of serving prisoners to enrol on apprenticeships. This important initiative offers prisoners the opportunity to develop new skills and acquire valuable experience of the workplace, which will put them in a strong position to secure stable employment upon release, reducing the risk of reoffending.

“We are proud to be offering one of the very first prisoner apprenticeships alongside our sister organisation, Total People, the Timpson Group and Greene King on this ground-breaking reform. We are looking forward to utilising our 30 years of experience in offender learning to support more prisoners in accessing this new training route.”

Richard Suttle, Prison Governor at HMPYOI Thorn Cross, commented: “As an open prison we are committed to supporting the completion of work placements as part of a sentence that will enable prisoners to acquire the skills that will help them secure the stable employment upon their release that we know is so critical to breaking cycles of reoffending.

“As such we are delighted to be one of the first prisons to be supporting one of our prisoners to undertake an apprenticeship and are looking forward to working in partnership with Novus, Total People and Timpson Group to ensure this new training route for prisoners is a success and can be made accessible to as many suitable prisoners as possible.”

Melanie Nicholson, Managing Director of Total People, said: “Apprenticeships offer many people of different backgrounds a route into employment and provide an established, job-focussed pathway to acquiring the skills required for a successful career.

“It is therefore exciting to play a part in providing apprenticeships for prisoners and we are looking forward to using our expertise to ensure that prisoners, have the opportunity to gain the valuable knowledge, skills and behaviours that will lead them into stable, meaningful employment upon completion of their sentence.”

James Timpson, Chief Executive of the Timpson Group, said: “At the Timpson Group, we have a track record of championing ex-offenders and providing them with employment opportunities that enable them to break the cycle of reoffending, reintegrate into society and make positive contributions to the economy.

“Key to this mission is ensuring that offenders have as many opportunities as possible to gain skills and training while completing their sentence. As such, we are delighted to be providing one of the first ever work placements for the prisoner apprenticeship scheme at The Partridge and are looking forward to working with Novus and Total People to ensure this opportunity can be offered to other prisoners who could benefit from an apprenticeship.”

Novus and Total People are part of LTE Group, the UK’s largest social enterprise dedicated to education, with the partnership highlighting the power of collaboration and knowledge sharing in the skills and training sector.

LTE Group CEO John Thornhill commented: “At LTE Group we are in the position of being able to bring together experts from the full spectrum of the training and skills provision, including further and higher education, apprenticeships and prison education. This makes us uniquely placed to break new ground in the education, training and skills sector and develop cutting edge policy and practice that provides innovative approaches to ensuring that the everyone – regardless of starting point – can acquire the skills they will require to access the economic opportunities available to them and build a brighter future.

“We are proud to be leading on this new change in policy with Novus and Total People working hand in hand to deliver one of the very first prisoner apprenticeships in partnership with the Timpson Group at HMPYOI Thorn Cross.  To be at the forefront of this initiative demonstrates the strength of disparate areas of education working in a collaborative and connected way and provides a blueprint for engineering further policy changes in the future that will further enable innovative ways of working.”