Prison and training centre partner on jobs programme

| 05/07/2019
CNS Local Life
Prison Director Steven Barrett and Deputy Director of Rehabilitation Aduke Natalie Joseph-Caesar at press conference announcing collaboration with the vocational centre

(CNS Local Life): Ahead of its official launch expected later this summer, vocational centre Inspire Cayman Training (ICT) is partnering with HMP Northward to set up a programme to teach inmates skills that will enable them to enter the workforce after they leave prison. Starting Monday, 8 July, ICT owner Michael Myles will be training six prison officers at the centre to be certified as instructors in automotive maintenance and construction.

Myles, a former government at-risk youth officer, is accredited by the US-based National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), which provides standardised training. The six officers were selected because they have met the NCCER instructor standards; they are all considered journey-level professionals, meaning they have four-plus years of experience in their respective craft fields.

The training of the inmates at the prison is anticipated to start in September. Myles explained that before the classes can begin, “We have to complete an audit to ensure they have the tools to teach the curriculum.”

At a press conference announcing the partnership Wednesday, 3 July, Prison Director Steven Barrett noted the importance of getting people out of the “revolving door” of prison. “It is well-researched that to enable someone to escape from criminality, they have to find work that is sustainable and meaningful,” he said, adding, this was an opportunity to address the skills gap that exists in the community and the lack of a trade school.

Calling the partnership a “no brainer”, Barrett said the opportunity to augment the activities provided in prison with ones that are purposeful “is a good result for us”.

He also stressed that the programme doesn’t begin and end with prison but instead can be the “start of a transformational change” for the inmates. The prison director added he is looking to have 60 prisoners take part in the programme in the first year.

When the prisoners leave the gates of Northward or Fairbanks, that “is not the end of our interest and responsibility”, he said. “We have a social responsibility to ensure their transition back into the community is a successful one. This partnership allows us to continue their training” when they are released, Barrett explained.

As part of that additional training, when inmates leave the prison they can take the “Tools for Success” course at Inspire Cayman which teaches so-called soft skills such as how to prepare a resume and complete an application, and how to be interviewed.

CNS Local Life
Michael Myles speaks about partnership with prison

Noting that it was difficult to measure recidivism rates, Barrett said being able to offer inmates vocational training can contribute to a good outcome. “No one should come into prison and then leave again without us having made some positive imprint on that individual,” he said.

Aduke Natalie Joseph-Caesar, Deputy Director of Rehabilitation at the prison, said that in addition to vocational training, learning the soft skills will help people “understand how they can make that positive change, how they can make that shift in their beliefs”. She added, “It is not about just learning all the industrial skills but it’s also about developing skills for living,” such as how to communicate and how to de-escalate a conflict at work.

Myles has also been lining up companies, which will not only offer financial support but provide job opportunities for those who complete the training programme.

He said he got tired and “sick to my stomach” from years of watching young people finish school and then end up committing crimes and winding up behind bars, so he “decided to do something”, leading to the establishment of his vocational centre.

Myles noted that over the years he has heard companies complain that “Cayman kids do not want to work hard, Cayman kids aren’t prepared”, and sees the training he is offering as the way forward. He is now challenging the private sector to “man up”, adding, “You cannot continue to say those things yet don’t want to do anything to change that.”

Pointing to the 27,000 work permit holders in Cayman, Myles said training programmes could teach Caymanians the skills needed to compete for those jobs.

Asking employers to show “a level of patience and commitment”, he said, “here is where mentoring comes in” as well as offering apprenticeships and a bit of “hand holding” for the new workers.

He is not just looking for money from partner companies, but also for their time. Myles said he wants to see businesses come on board and “if someone needs a second chance, provide that to them”.

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Category: Education, Employment, Local News, Training

Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank Godness for our civil service

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well done Mr Myles and the Director Mr Barret. Let’s hope this works despite the negative force sat next to you.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Myles-
    I listened to the audio re. this program. Very impressive. Kudos and best of luck. May I add two suggestions. I feel adding a mandatory health/ sex ed class to your program would be very beneficial. As we know, a way at-risk youth fall behind is when they have children at a young age. I believe this piece would tie your program together with your other mandatory classes.

    Once your program is up and running, maybe add IT / computer programs and combine with coding, accounting, etc.

    I realize your program is just starting and wish you the best.