Paul Turner teaches Featherstone prisoners

Bridgestone's Paul Turner with HMP Featherstone prisoners

Tyre maker Bridgestone is training prisoners at HMP Feathestone to be truck tyre fitters to help equip them with the skills needed for a career in the industry after they complete their sentences.

Up to 30 Featherstone inmates will gain Institute of the Motor Industry accredited qualifications including Bridgestone’s REACT roadside technician, commercial wheel security and licensed commercial tyre technician awards.

All equipment - including a custom-built trailer wheel rig - has been provided by Bridgestone to create a hands-on practical workshop.

Bridgestone teamed up with the Midlands-based prison to address the shortage of skilled tyre technicians, while giving inmates a more positive outlook for the future.

One prisoner is already planning a career in commercial tyre fitting once released. He said: “There are not enough jobs out there and the ones that appeal need qualifications, which cost money to do.

“This course gives me a huge chance and I couldn’t let it pass. I have a little boy waiting for me and I want to make him proud of me. If I can have a career in the commercial tyre world, then that would be incredible and it is something I now want to do.”

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HMP Featherstone governor Warren Sullivan said: “We always try to see the person rather than the prisoner and by partnering with us, Bridgestone are doing this too.

“What Bridgestone has done here cannot be underplayed. We can teach prisoners a lot, but the difference with some domestic based skills and this is that there is a real, tangible opportunity here. This course is as important as any other we provide.

“This is a life-changer for many of the students doing the course. Not only does it give them hope, but the qualifications make them a commodity on the outside world."

Bridgestone’s training and development manager Paul Turner said: “Coming in and seeing these guys working so hard – with such positivity – is so good to see. They’re engaged, they’re keen to learn and there is some real talent here too.

“There is a skills gap in the industry and we thought that this would be a unique way to tackle it, whilst giving a second opportunity to people who are desperate to knuckle down and forge their own careers. The qualifications they will gain are seen as being ‘indispensable’ amongst our fleet customers and I know that the skills that these students are acquiring are very much sought-after.

“It is good to see so much passion and pride in the their work and we certainly wish them well in their continuing studies.”