Building new lives for ex-offenders

A Lancashire-headquartered building firm has received a top award for its pioneering efforts to help ex-offenders find work in the construction industry.

CPUK Civils and Remediation has won the 'Inspiring Change SME Award' for its work going into prisons, training inmates and giving them jobs on release.

Judges from the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), which runs the awards, said the CPUK initiative was impressive and should be copied by other businesses in the industry around the UK.

More than 200 prisoners and ex-offenders have so far been selected for training, with Skelmersdale-based CPUK taking on successful candidates and arranging interviews with other civil engineering companies in the region.

Jack Rowley, managing director of CPUK Civils and Remediation, oversees the project and has been instrumental in its success, even getting a change in English law to allow simulation computers to be used by prisoners in HM Prison Hindley in Wigan.

Jack, pictured right with Paul Pritchard from Novus, the company’s prison training partner, said: “The objective is to encourage ex-offenders into the construction and engineering industry.

“We created the project to increase interest in the plant operator area of the industry as a fulfilling, long-term work prospect and to help us contribute to addressing the shortage of well trained and experienced staff in the sector.

CPUK is now hiring directly through the scheme

“CPUK is now hiring directly through the scheme and we have five other civils companies conducting speed interviews with candidates.

“We will continue to roll out the scheme across the prison service and follow the progress of our current candidates with interest.”

CECA says the joint venture with HM Prison Service, Novus, CPUK Civils and Remediation and Tenstar Simulation, which is attracting grant funding, showcases diversity and inclusion in the construction industry.

The Inspiring Change Award citation read: “CPUK Civils and Remediation’s initiative aims to create site ready candidates for employment as plant operatives, targeting ex-offenders from HM Prison Hindley, Wigan.

“The statistics are impressive. 200 candidates have been selected for simulator driver training with additional skill and competence training. The ultimate objective is to provide meaningful employment for ex-offenders upon their release.

The judges said: “This initiative is being expanded into prisons around the North West and judges felt it could easily be replicated by other businesses in other locations.”