Training ex-offenders as London red bus drivers may sound like a risk to some people, but HCT Group says that the pilot has found that, with the right support, an intake of ex-offender bus driving trainees has had the same success rate & performance as an intake without ex-offenders.
The potential of this programme could come as relief for offenders as around 75% of prisoners are released to unemployment, heightening the prospect of re-offending.
HCT Group wants to be part of the solution. The new pilot project – Drive On – aims to create a pathway to sustainable employment for ex-offenders as London red bus drivers.
The project is a partnership between HCT Group and Blue Sky which is part of the Forward Trust, who offer tailored support, training and access to real jobs to ex-offenders and those in recovery from addiction.
Blue Sky recruits and selects the participants, ensuring that they are appropriate for the programme, avoiding certain offences that might hamper public confidence, such as sexual offences or vehicle crime. The HCT Group Learning Centre, with its extensive experience of working with some of the hardest-to-reach learners in education, provides the theory and practical elements of bus driver training, leading to the participants gaining their full licence.
After their training, participants then take part in the standard induction and review period of any other new driver recruit – albeit with on-going management support and guidance from Blue Sky, who act as their employment agency. At the end of their three month review period, they are conﬁrmed in post with HCT Group as London red bus drivers.
“The pilot has been a great success, proving that the concept works” said Lawrence Wilson, HCT Group Director for London. “All the way through the programme –from initial training to active employment – the attitude and attendance of the cohort has been very good, indistinguishable from an intake of non-offender trainees. The same can be said for their level of customer service and driving quality, which has been directly on a par with other drivers at this stage. The pilot has been such a success that we have already started the process to recruit a second cohort of ex-offenders.”
“As a social enterprise, HCT Group is always seeking out innovative new ways to increase its social impact” said Dai Powell, HCT Group Chief Executive. “By creating a pathway for ex-offenders with Drive On to build rewarding careers in the bus industry, we really can help people turn their lives around.”
“Tackling intractable social problems, like reducing re-offending rates, takes real partnership and a shared vision” said Kate Markey, Divisional Director, Employment Services, the Forward Trust. “We are delighted to be partnering with HCT Group who are – through the Drive On initiative – demonstrating to their industry a way of doing good business and doing good for society.”
Jane Desmond, Chief Operating Officer at HCT Group said “The bus industry is crying out for new drivers, ex-offenders are crying out for opportunities. Drive On tackles both of these issues. It’s a great match between good business sense and positive social change – and I’m delighted to be involved.”
Tutu Adebiyi, Director of Skills and Employment at HCT Group, said “The Learning Centre has been breaking down the barriers to employment for those who face signiﬁcant challenges in the labour market for over 20 years. I am delighted we are able to use our skills and experience to create genuine opportunities for ex-offenders.”