Prison work to develop professional competencies Silvia Bernardo February 7, 2022

Prison work to develop professional competencies

New transnational initiative is taking steps to create a solid base for an ongoing connection between industries and prison services. The goal is to facilitate inmate professional development while in prison.

Reintegration into society is a crucial step to prevent recidivism. Professional reintegration and beyond that, the existence of a professional career, are solid anchors that address the structural vulnerabilities presented by (ex)inmates.

At the same time, industries need human resources with specific competencies that can be learned and enhanced. Nonetheless, establishing forfuitous connections between industry and the prisons can be a struggle due to the heavy bureaucratic process.

A two-front solution proposal

STEP2LAB project (Systematic Transition from Prison into the Labour Market) aims to bridge the gap between prison services and private industries in need of human resources. The project focuses on capacitating them with longstanding competencies to create effective and collaborative itineraries of socio-labour integration for inmates.

Together with the industry companies, the partners will define standards of cooperation between inmates and employers and introduce continuous improvement protocols. Furthermore, the initiative will empower the companies’ staff to deliver standardised and corresponding to actual labour market needs.

On the inmate’s side, the goal is to enhance career development through initial and continuous learning. The project seeks to pilot with over 200 inmates from the countries involved in the partnership, providing vocational guidance and a package of introductory competencies in a specific industry. Additionally, this contact will include developing a career plan and testing internships programmes while serving the prison sentence.

The initiative targets a younger audience and inmates with or at the end of their sentence, seeking to capacitate prison inmates and spark their motivation to invest in a career.

step2lab kickoff

The project gathers experts from France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Romania, and Spain, where the piloting of its initiatives will focus.

At the end of the project, in 30 months, the consortium will have developed a replicable process for fomenting the synergic collaboration between correctional services and private industries. The developments include a training of trainers course to be delivered to prison and industries staff on setting up and managing STEP2LAB processes and models. After being established, this process can then be adapted to other institutions and countries to improve reintegration results.

The STEP2LAB partners discussed these important goals and plans at its online kick-off meeting on February 7th, 2022. The event was organised by the Portuguese project’s coordinator CENTIMFE (Technological Center for Molds, Special Tools and Plastics Industry). All partners were represented in this discussion, namely IPS_Innovative Prison Systems (Portugal), Mioveni Penitentiary (Romania), Charles et Adrien Dupuy High School (France), IRFIP (Religious Institute of Vocational Education and Training – Romania), CIRE (Center for Reintegration Initiatives – Catalonia, Spain), and KIMW-Q (Non-profit KIMW Qualification Association – Germany).

For more information on the STEP2LAB project, please visit its page.