Creating Social Change
Sophie O'Sullivan, about 2 years ago
On the blog, we previously connected with award-winning programme Unlocked Graduates. This week, we will take a look at the recent impact and what it is like to be a candidate on the scheme.
Unlocked Graduates, in partnership with the University of Suffolk, is a two-year programme whereby exceptional candidates can gain a masters in leadership and custodial environments.
Since 2016, over 10,000 students and graduates have registered their interest in Unlocked Graduates and 55 per cent of the successful applicants have come from Russell Group universities, including Oxford and Cambridge. It has successfully placed over 250 graduate prison officers in 14 prisons across London and the South East. Last year, the pioneering scheme was named one of the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers today. For the first time, a prison officer was listed as a top graduate role, recognising the significance of working within rehabilitation and tackling wide spread skill shortages.
Being recognised in the public eye is especially important as this elite scheme is a key contributor to shifting public opinion regarding prison reform. Unlocked Graduates fosters a strong belief in second chances.
The first part of the programme involves a 6-week residential placement, kick-starting prison officer training. The key emphasis here is on role play, mimicking real work environments.
Lauren Cooper, a recent graduate of the scheme, worked in HMP & YOI Isis over the 2-year period. She focused on gang based offending for young individuals aged 18-25. After having gradated, Lauren now represents Unlocked Graduates as part of their recruitment team.
Lauren thoroughly enjoyed developing on-the-job, gaining crucial front-line experience. This can involve supporting educational or mental health initiatives in addition to helping service users identify their skills and career ambitions on release.
To be a prison officer, key skills include understanding, compassion, a good professional working relationship and a strong motivation to be there and help others.
-Lauren Cooper, Unlocked Graduates
In year two, there is an opportunity to progress onto a two-week work experience placement. There is a plethora of different work placements in various sectors. Key employers include: EY, PWC, Google, West Ham Football Club, the African Prisons Project and Clifford Chance. This is a great way for employers to engage with the criminal justice system and to invest in talented individuals who are actively driving for social change in the criminal justice sector. Unlocked graduates unlock a pathway to thinking differently. To look toward the future and embrace inclusive recruitment. If you are a forward-thinking employer who would like to offer a work placement on this scheme, please do get in touch with Unlocked Graduates directly.
In the new machine age, the skills that will important for successful careers will be problem solving, flexible thinking, creativity and emotional intelligence. Unlocked Graduates will develop each of these capabilities very quickly, making them very attractive to organisations such as EY.
-Riaz Shah, Partner, Global Talent, EY
The final stage involves writing a policy paper which is delivered to the Justice Minister. Last year, policy papers observed mental health in prisons, prison leadership and officer wellbeing.
Unlocked Graduates equips candidates with outstanding leadership skills. It creates a beneficial environment for prison officers and service users where reform is at the heart of everything they do both inside and outside. We look forward to further future developments of the programme.