The Skill Mill
From an article by The Skill Mill
An innovative programme was recently expanded to get over 224 young ex-offenders into work. The Skill Mill, a Social Enterprise founded in 2013, will deliver an intensive 6-month work programme designed to help vulnerable young people break the cycle of re-offending and gain work experience. Over 224 young people will be employed, each for six months, gaining a nationally recognised qualification, practical work skills, a wage and an opportunity to progress into further employment and/or training.
The programme has operated successfully in Leeds, Newcastle and Durham and is now being expanded - being jointly commissioned by seven Local Authorities with support from the Life Chances Fund. It is structured as a four-year outcomes contract, funded by a social impact bond – so payments are only made if the Skill Mill Partnership succeeds in keeping the young person’s progress on the programme and achieving the outcomes linked to employability i.e. qualifications, and no further court convictions. This will represent substantial savings to the authorities involved.
The Skill Mill works in partnership with some of the country’s most progressive and socially responsible employers, who collectively bring decades of experience of implementing evidence-based programmes across the UK and further afield. Jobs are primarily in the environmental maintenance and construction sectors and are shown to improve emotional and physical wellbeing through being outdoors and with significant contact with nature.
The Skill Mill directly employs young people aged between sixteen and eighteen. They employ only ex-offenders, actively reducing reoffending whilst increasing engagement, participation, employability and educational levels of the young people to increase their life chances. The young people also undertake accredited training and achieve a nationally recognised qualification (Level 2 AQA in Employability Skills). They acquire knowledge and skills by working alongside local private contractors and partners. Follow on employment opportunities with partner organisations and the wider labour market are sought for each employee and support towards this goal is provided from the outset.
Funding for the programme is initially being provided by four social investors jointly led by Northstar Ventures and Big Issue Invest, plus CAF Venturesome and the Resonance West Midlands SITR Fund. Social Finance has sponsored the programme and will provide performance management services to the project.
David Parks, Managing Director of The Skill Mill said, “This programme is the culmination of many months of hard work and dedication from all partners who are committed to improving the life chances of some of the most vulnerable young people in society. These young people who have been drawn into criminality need a realistic opportunity to break the cycle. The Skill Mill achieves this by helping to change their identity from one of offender to an employee with legitimate income, self-respect and a desire to change their behaviour and contribute positively to society and the economy.”
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