Inmates Gain More Access To Trade Skills Apprenticeships

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Joseph Lafave Contributor
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The Bureau of Prisons is now making it easier for inmates to gain nationally-accredited trade apprenticeships while incarcerated.

Thanks to a directive from President Trump, the BOP and the Department of Labor (DOL) have worked together to develop standardized trade apprenticeship criteria for inmates, which allows them to graduate the programs with nationally-recognized certificates. The BOP says these certificates are “a significant improvement over the current state-level certifications being provided, that will enhance inmates’ ability to secure meaningful employment following release.”

The criteria for the new BOP programs include occupational safety and wellness education and a curriculum that follows federal and state regulations. The plan is a result of Trump’s June 2017 executive order titled “Executive Order Expanding Apprenticeships in America,” which aims “to promote affordable education and rewarding jobs for American workers.”

The president’s new approach to prison education may be an attempt to fill a large number of skilled trade jobs that are currently vacant. Many college graduates find themselves underemployed and with crippling debt, while jobs in industries like manufacturing go unfilled. Trump hopes this new program can not only help the trade industry but also provide careers for Americans.

“Far too many individuals today find themselves with crushing student debt and no direct connection to jobs,” Trump said last June.

Finding a job after being incarcerated can be even harder than finding one straight out of college. According to the National Institute of Justice, “between 60 and 75 percent of ex-offenders are jobless up to a year after release.”

Joblessness is often cited as a major factor that contributes to recidivism as well. One study from the Manhattan Institute found a 20 percent reduction in recidivism when a person found meaningful employment soon after being released.

With more access to nationally accredited trade apprenticeship programs, inmates released from Federal prisons now stand a better chance of starting a career.