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job hopes Mountjoy Prison pilots virtual simulator training to help prisoners with ‘potential opportunities’

The pilot programme took place for two weeks


Mountjoy Prison

Mountjoy Prison

Mountjoy Prison

Mountjoy prison have piloted virtual simulator training for prisoners. The demonstration was facilitated by Barry Keatley from TalentPool Virtual.

The Athy man recently spent two weeks in the North Inner City prison, working directly with the prisoners, and has said they loved the experience.

“We did a couple of weeks up there, it went down very well, for the first time ever during any course that they’ve ever been through up there, the [prisoners] did not want to take a break… it was just full on for the length of time I was in it,” he told the Kildare Nationalist.

“There was a possibility of different work placements there for guys that are up for release. We were in touch with different companies and yeah, there was a few guys have got a good possibility of getting placements when they come out.”

The simulator can provide training for a wide range of vehicles and machinery such as tractors and articulated lorries.

The prisoners told Barry that the experience was giving them a chance because they would have a new skill coming out of it.

“It gives them something to look forward to and it gets them out of the circle, because they said if they don’t come out and get into employment, they’ll get sucked back in again.”

Mark Walsh, the Chief Officer of Work and Training in Mountjoy Prison, said that he had done some research among the prison population and got in touch with Barry to see what he could provide.

“We found that we were looking for people that [were] coming close to release and that they had an interest in working in some of these machines… they were all interviewed,” he said.

“We got the outside agencies which are IASIO (Irish Association for Social Inclusion Opportunities), we selected our candidates, we [did] a demonstration with Barry, it was absolutely fabulous what could be taught, so we got approval, we got it going. We selected candidates and when Barry came on-site, we had him for two weeks."

Speaking of the prisoners who availed of the training, Mark said that after the first morning, they wouldn’t even stop for a break. “They wanted their dinner brought down to them; they were so enthusiastic… they were just so involved.”

All who took part passed “with flying colours” and through a pilot scheme there are already two people who have gone on to secure full-time employment. Mark said that it was a great experience to have and that they plan on running it again.

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