HCT Group announces ex-offender training project

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HCT Group has announced Drive On – a pilot project training ex-offenders as London red bus drivers.

The pilot has found that, with the right support, an intake of ex-offender bus driving trainees has the same success rate and performance as an intake without ex-offenders. This could lead to a sustainable path to employment for ex-offenders as London red bus drivers.

HCT Group said that within 12 months of release, 60% of offenders will have re-offended. The company said this has an estimated cost to the UK each year of £13bn – and is an incalculable waste of human potential. It highlighted that having a job is the single biggest factor in reducing re-offending, yet 75% of prisoners are released to unemployment.

The Drive On project aims to create a path to sustainable employment for ex-offenders as London red bus drivers. The project is a partnership between HCT Group and Blue Sky, part of The Forward Trust.

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 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 ongoing management support and guidance from Blue Sky, which acts 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.”