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​​​New engineering course helps inmates weld links to the community

Issued: Wednesday 5 October 2016

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Fifteen minimum-security inmates will next month for the first time begin TAFE-supported engineering traineeships that will provide them with formal qualifications to make them job-ready upon release.

The carefully selected inmates from Kirkconnell Correctional Centre, in the state’s Central West, will undertake the 12-month Certificate II in Engineering at a new purpose-built workshop at the centre.

Kirkconnell’s Corrective Services Industries boss Anthony Tait said it was important to provide practical opportunities and trade skills for inmates.

“The first aim of our new engineering workshop is to provide a place where component products can be manufactured for correctional centres across the state,” Mr Tait said.

“The second aim is to provide an opportunity for inmates to learn new skills and gain qualifications that will improve their chances of being employed and make their integration back into the community more positive.

“The engineering traineeships will be delivered by TAFE and managed by our four correctional-officer overseers, who all have a background in the trade.

“This is a terrific opportunity for the 15 participants who were selected from more than 20 applicants.”

The Corrective Services Industries engineering workshop was established in November last year after inmates cleaned and transformed the centre’s former wood workshop.

The workshop employs 60 inmates who use trade machinery, including a mandrel bender, plasma cutter, brake press and welding tools to build modular components, bunk beds and outdoor furniture sets for the state’s prisons.

The workshop also has a sandblaster, spray booth and welding bay that is used to restore old charity clothing-bins for The Smith Family at the rate of about 30 each month. They have also started manufacturing new clothing bins and vehicle trailers.

The workshop had a turnover of $400,000 between January and June this year, due to its contracts with the charity, Corrective Services NSW and private clients.

The workshop also employs a further 20 inmates in its small motor section, which services and maintains correctional centre lawn-mowers, whipper-snippers, trimmers and other landscaping tools.

Planning is underway to expand this service to other correctional services and community corrections offices.

Kirkconnell Correctional Centre, located between Lithgow and Bathurst, is a minimum-security facility housing 240 inmates. It was reopened in July last year.

CSI Kirkconnell boss Anthony Tait and engineering overseers. Photo 1: CSI Kirkconnell boss Anthony Tait and engineering overseers.

Inmates working on the plasma cutterPhoto 2: Inmates working on the plasma cutter.

Inmate welding ​Photo 3: Inmate welding.