Prisoners at HM Prison Featherstone are being given a life changing opportunity to forge careers once their sentences are complete, thanks to the world’s largest tyre manufacturer Bridgestone and its award winning training offering.
In an attempt to address the skills shortage in the truck tyre industry – and instil pride into prisoners’ lives – Bridgestone has partnered with the prison to offer a hat-trick of commercial tyre training qualifications, dubbed as being ‘indispensable’ amongst dealers and fleet customers.
Up to 30 Featherstone students will gain IMI (Institute of the Motor Industry) accredited qualifications featuring Bridgestone’s REACT roadside technician, commercial wheel security and licenced commercial tyre technician awards.
In addition, all equipment – including a custom-built trailer rig – has been provided by Bridgestone in a hands-on practical workshop.
Bridgestone took the unique step to team-up with the Midlands-based prison to upskill an industry currently in need of technicians, while in-mates themselves have said the faith shown has given them a renewed, positive outlook for the future.
One prisoner, who is cannot be named, is already planning for a career in commercial tyres once released and said: “There are not enough jobs out there and the ones that appeal need qualifications, which cost money to do.
“This course gives me a huge chance and I couldn’t let it pass. I have a little boy waiting for me and I want to make him proud of me. If I can have a career in the commercial tyre world, then that would be incredible and it is something I now want to do.”
Featherstone Prison Governor Warren Sullivan said: “We always try to see the person rather than the prisoner and by partnering with us, Bridgestone are doing this too.
“What Bridgestone has done here cannot be underplayed. We can teach prisoners a lot, but the difference with some domestic based skills and this is that there is a real, tangible opportunity here. This course is as important as any other we provide.
“This is a life-changer for many of the students doing the course. Not only does it give them hope, but the qualifications make them a commodity on the outside world. There is often a stigma attached to prisoners and perceptions can be negative. But Bridgestone has seen beyond this and the students will not let them down.”
Bridgestone’s training and development manager Paul Turner said: “Coming in and seeing these guys working so hard – with such positivity – is so good to see. They’re engaged, they’re keen to learn and there is some real talent here too.
“There is a skills gap in the industry and we thought that this would be a unique way to tackle it, whilst giving a second opportunity to people who are desperate to knuckle down and forge their own careers. The qualifications they will gain are seen as being ‘indispensable’ amongst our fleet customers and I know that the skills that these students are acquiring are very much sought-after and in short supply.
“It is good to see so much passion and pride in the their work and we certainly wish them well in their continuing studies.”