Prisoners learn about jobs, study options

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JACK.CONROY@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

An Otago Corrections Facility careers day was held last week to advise inmates about jobs that may be available to them when they leave prison.

Attending the day were employers from many different companies, along with University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic representatives, who explained tertiary study options to inmates.

The inmates were split into two groups, with one group walking around and chatting to employers in the careers expo area.

Those in the other group were put through a series of sit-down interviews to get a taste of the interview process and gain a better idea of where they might like to go in their future working careers.

OCF assistant prison director Renee Clarkson said “this gives these guys the opportunity to put their best foot forward”.

“They’re being introduced to people they wouldn’t usually get the chance to meet and see what life could be like after they leave here.”

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis was present and thanked the employers who attended for their support.

“I think it’s great that they’re taking a chance with these guys. And this is an opportunity for the inmates to sell themselves to the employers and potentially start getting paid the first week after they’re released.”

Representing DairyNZ at the event was Guy Michaels.

Mr Michaels said the industry organisation helped connect ex-prisoners with farmers looking to fill positions.

“There are always some farmers with some reticence, but many are willing to hire, and we help make that happen.”

He said DairyNZ wanted to ensure any ex-inmate’s first foray into the dairy industry was “an enjoyable and lasting one”.

University of Otago liaison officer Gregg Heller said the OCF careers event was “a new experience, but a positive one”.

“It’s nice to pop along and give people the opportunity to have a chat about possibly going into tertiary study.”

One inmate said he was nervous before the interview process, because “obviously they’re not always happy questions .. but we researched the companies and learned a lot. It was really good help.”