Oamaru offenders learning new skills

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Offenders on community work sentences in Oamaru are learning new skills to increase their employability and help them maintain offence-free lives.

Training options are based on developing skills for jobs where there is demand locally or where skills are easily transferable.

Over the past six months, this has included offenders in Oamaru gaining employment and life skills training in basic workplace health and safety, scaffolding and forklift driving.

The courses have proved successful, with seven people gaining their forklift certificate, seven gaining a scaffolding certificate and two claiming both, with one person from the course now in full-time employment.

Correction Oamaru service manager Jodie Reed said offending was a problem in Oamaru.

“More than half the offenders on community sentences are unemployed and many have never had the skills or opportunity for employment,” she said.

“Research tells us there is a strong correlation between employment and reduced offending.

“Through the training programmes, we are providing people with the skills and confidence to make a positive change in their lives and help them stay away from crime. This helps break the cycle of crime, and improves the health and happiness of the individuals involved, their families and, therefore, the whole community,” Mrs Reed said.

The certificates gained by the offenders were for forklift and scaffolding courses which took place over one and two days.

“The offenders was really thrilled with their achievement and the opportunities ahead,” Jodie said.

These opportunities are part of the Corrections’ trade training programme, which allows probation officers to direct up to 20 per cent of a community work sentence (if more than 80 hours) to be spent on work and living skills training. The remainder of the sentence is spent working to support community organisations.

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

LEARNING: Offenders in Oamaru have been learning how to gain their forklift certificate.