Project information

Employing ex-offenders, bridging the UK skills gap

Creating real jobs and targeted training programmes for ex-offenders within growth sectors of the economy, giving those leaving prison an opportunity to turn away from crime, and helping to reduce re-offending while also plugging skills gaps in industries such as construction and distribution.

January 2017 - January 2018

Charity information: Blue Sky Development & Regeneration

Blue Sky Development & Regeneration logo
  • Need


    England/Wales release 90,000 prisoners every year. 60% re-offend within 2 years, costing the public £13bn pa. Having a job is the single most important determinant in reducing the probability of re-offending, yet 75% of prisoners are released to unemployment according to the recent Coates review of prison education. Meanwhile, many industries face significant skill gaps (e.g. the UK needs an extra 150,000 LGV drivers by 2020; one in 5 LGV drivers are over 60, only 1% are under 25).


    Blue Sky has directly employed over 1,200 ex-offenders since 2005, creating entry-level jobs in industry sectors such as grounds maintenance and waste management. Building on our achievements to date, this project will support Blue Sky’s diversification and expansion into new industry sectors, creating a higher number and a wider range of jobs for ex-offenders, while also improving longer-term career and wage prospects through targeted skills training.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To diversify and win commercial contracts in new industries to create new jobs for ex-offenders


    » Marketing Blue Sky’s tried-and-tested employment model to companies in industries such as construction, distribution, food manufacturing, etc
    » Establishing links with Directors of HR and other senior managers within these companies
    » Securing and delivering new contracts to supply labour within the supply chains of these companies

    What success will look like

    Creation of 2-3 new commercial contracts in new industries in 2017 (representing 10% growth)

    Aim 2

    Develop new training programmes that are linked to jobs in new contracts/industries


    » Researching the training needs and skills gaps that face industries which Blue Sky has targeted for job creation
    » Developing / sourcing training programmes that match these gaps (e.g. CSCS cards for construction; CPC for LGV driving)
    » Developing links with prisons where training programmes can be delivered

    What success will look like

    2-3 new training programmes developed and run in prison in 2017, reaching and engaging c150 prisoners

    Aim 3

    Employing and supporting ex-offenders within new commercial contracts


    » Recruiting ex-offenders on 6-month contracts (Blue Sky is the direct employer during this period, placing ex-offenders within clients’ teams)
    » Providing in-work support for those employed to sustain their employment (e.g. top-up training grants and interest-free loans to help with housing)
    » Brokering links with commercial partners to source onward jobs for Blue Sky employees post 6-month placement

    What success will look like

    25-30 ex-offenders employed by Blue Sky in new industry sectors (e.g. construction or distribution), 50% of those progressing to permanent employment with commercial partners

  • Impact


    This project will contribute to Blue Sky’s aim to increase the number of jobs it can offer ex-offenders (towards 250 pa by 2018/19) and to recruit and train serving prisoners as potential employees for these roles. It will also ensure that many of those taken on can progress to permanent employment and the promise of career progression and better wages.
    We will demonstrate success by monitoring the number of ex-offenders we recruit and the number attaining onward jobs.


    1. Failure to win contracts in new industry sectors, and failure to create an increased number of job for ex-offenders. We will explore a wide range of new industry sectors and potential clients to spread the risk.
    2. Risk that a greater number of ex-offender employees to support will lead to a rise in re-offending rate and/or less job sustainment. We are targeting job growth in geographic ‘clusters’ to maximise efficiency (i.e we can support more people with the same resources).


    Donors will receive quarterly email reports on the project’s progress and outcomes, including statistics, testimonials and case studies.

    We will also offer donors the opportunity to visit prisons to see our training in action.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £30,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £12,500 Project Delivery Contribution to salary of Training Manager
      £10,000 Training qualifications Registration fees for learners, specislist instructor fees and other direct costs
      £7,500 Project Management Contribution to salary of member of Blue Sky's senior managament team
  • Background


    Blue Sky is based in Denham, West London but employs ex-offenders through commercial contracts in London, Thames Valley, Gloucestershire, East and South East. Given the concentration of our jobs in London (50% of our forecast 200 jobs in 17/18), we are targeting prisons that release ex-offenders to London for the project.


    The project will benefit serving prisoners and ex-offenders in the London area. Of the 1,200+ ex-offenders employed to date by Blue Sky, their profile is as follows:
    * 29% aged 18-24; 44% aged 25-50; 7% aged 50+
    * 32% BAME
    * 5% women
    * 33% had a drug/alcohol issue
    * 15% had unstable / unsuitable accommodation
    * 30% had financial issues or no bank account
    * 41% had one or more dependents.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Blue Sky has a proven track-record (evidenced by repeat custom with companies such as Veolia and Amey) as a trusted intermediary for companies who want to employ ex-offenders for social good but who lack experience and expertise of supporting those with a criminal record and of navigating the complex world of criminal justice. We were chosen last year by the DWP as a key partner in its See Potential campaign to promote to companies the benefits of employing people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Allison Enenche, Training Manager

    A CIPD-qualified practitioner with 4 years’ experience of work in prisons for Blue Sky, Allison is responsible for designing new training programmes.

    Malcolm Reilly, Teams Manager And Tutor

    An ex-offender who joined Blue Sky as an entry-level operative in 2010, Malcolm supervises employees and also delivers training in prison/community

Blue Sky employees talk about onward jobs with Veolia, one of our commercial partners

“I actually enjoy getting up and working for my money as opposed to stealing it and getting my kicks from other people's misery. I get a better feeling inside having earned my money rather than stealing it.”

Blue Sky employee