Thursday, 30 May 2013

Questions (200)

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

200. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of workshop and work training posts that are vacant in each prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26324/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can inform the Deputy that the following table shows the existing vacancies for workshop and work training posts in each Prison:

Prison

Vacancies

Arbour Hill

7

Castlerea

8

Cloverhill

3

Cork

6

Dochas

5

Limerick

10

Loughan House

1

Midlands

24

Mountjoy

11

Portlaoise

14

Shelton Abbey

2

St. Patrick's Institution

2

Training Unit

2

Wheatfield

19

Many of these vacant posts are currently being filled by officers 'acting-up' to the role. Vacancies are in the process of being filled by a combination of redeployment of Clerks under the Croke Park Agreement and a competition for promotion to Work Training Officer will be held in the coming weeks.

The Irish Prison Service places a strong emphasis on improving prisoners’ employability prospects through work training activities and accredited vocational training courses.

A wide range of training workshops operate within the institutions e.g. printing, computers, braille, woodwork, metalwork, construction, industrial cleaning, crafts and horticulture. There are over 100 workshops and service activities across the prison estate. In March, the latest month for which statistics are available, an average of over 1,100 prisoners engaged in these vocational training activities and courses each day - just over 26% of the average prison population in that month.

The Irish Prison Service has also been expanding the number of accredited courses and opportunities available to prisoners in Work Training in recent years. Enhanced partnership arrangements with accrediting bodies such as City and Guilds, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), and the Guild of Launders and Cleaners and the centralising of coordination and quality assurance arrangements have enabled us to extend the number of available courses and activities with certification.

The Irish Prison Service now has over 100 qualifications available across 20 skill sets. The numbers of prisoners participating in accredited vocational training courses has increased from 314 in 2007 to 1,459 in 2012 and 1,030 prisoners received certificates in the last year.