Learn to code: Government to funding prison computing lessons to help prisoners find work after release

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Code4000 project to receive £100,000 in funding to spread computer lessons across UK jails

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in UK has announced a £100,000 grant to Code4000 project to provide coding workshops to prisoners in England and make them better prepared to get into work after the release.

The £100,000 grant is part of the UK government's £1.2 million programme package, which aims to enhance digital skills of people from marginalised groups in the country.

In the first phase of the project, Code4000 will teach coding to more than 1,000 prisoners in two prisons - Holme House and Humber, in County Durham. Code4000 had already led a successful pilot project at HMP Humber, and now aims to develop a network of training workshops in UK prisons.

The organisation will also use the funds to set up a new employment centre in Sheffield to train and support offenders once they leave prison.

The coding workshops in prisons will be conducted by industry experts as well as volunteers. Initially, prisoners will learn lessons on basic coding concepts, such as HTML, Javascript, before moving to more advanced topics such as databases, full stack development, etc.

After these people become proficient in coding programmes, they will get opportunities to work on real-world projects for external clients. The money earned from clients will be reinvested into the project to train more people.

The UK prison coding programme is modelled on the Last Mile project, which was started for offenders in the San Quentin prison in California. This project is considered a highly successful programme as it helped about 500 prisoners get jobs after release. Moreover, none of those participating in the programme was found to be involved in reoffending.

Last year, the UK government released data on prisoners, showing that less than 20 per cent of the people find a steady source of income a year after leaving prison. There are many firms that still don't want to hire convicted people.

It is surely a major issue, costing the UK economy about £15 billion each year.

"Code 4000 is an excellent example of what can be achieved through education and training in prison," said Prisons Minister Rory Stewart.

"It not only helps offenders turn their lives around but also benefits society by reducing the chances of their reoffending, and I am delighted to see it receive this further funding."

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