It’s goodbye mailbags and hello IT at New Zealand prisons.
The Department of Corrections is training prisoners in Java, Microsoft software and other IT skills to help them gain employment on their release.
A pilot scheme involving six inmates at Paremoremo has been under way for a year, and will be extended if successful. The national manager of inmate employment, David Bremner, says companies approached the department asking if it had prisoners trained in IT. The department subsequently began using specialist instructors to train the inmates to work for an (unnamed) company when they finish their sentences.
Bremner says the prisoners on the current course may have been unemployed, “but have the literacy and numeracy to cope with the training”. He won’t say what they are in prison for, but claims they are not dangerous and have been assessed as “suitable for rehabilitation”.
Bremner is unsure when the first prisoners finish their course but says the initiative is to help fill skill shortages.
Corrections would be careful its inmates would not “distort” the labour market and take jobs from other workers. But if more private firms wanted workers of certain skills, his department would be happy to try and supply them, he says.