By Stefany Rodriguez, Project officer
A new CORCAN project began in the Quebec Region in the summer of 2018 to support offenders on conditional release with their social and occupational reintegration. This initiative allows them to work as installers on a transitional basis to develop and apply technical and job-related skills prior to entering the job market. Although this project is still new, gains have already been made, including for Michaël, who is currently working as an installer for CORCAN in a team composed of two instructors and three other apprentice installers like him.
Prior to his incarceration in 2015, Michaël had never experienced job stability due to a substance abuse problem that resulted in a lack of attendance and poor performance. He had only held very short-term jobs. When he was released on day parole in July 2018, he had a very hard time imagining himself being able to find and maintain a stable, full-time job. However, he decided to take charge and change his lifestyle by participating in CSC programs, which helped him develop a sense of responsibility and motivation to work.
In institutions, CORCAN invests in vocational training on an ongoing basis and offers on-the-job training in its workshops, making it possible to develop each inmate’s potential. However, this work opportunity was presented to him upon his release, when his Community Parole Officer referred him to this CORCAN initiative.
CORCAN’s Employment and Employability Program offers a range of services and initiatives, from admission to release, to prepare offenders for release and help them make a successful transition to the community.
At first, Michaël had some concerns. He doubted his ability to maintain a job because he only referred to his past experiences. However, he developed good life habits in the institution and feels that his situation continues to improve. He quickly created a routine that enables him to always be on time and he makes an effort to have a positive attitude throughout his workdays. In addition, having learned the duties of an installer, he would like to get into the field of material handling.
Michaël told us that this experience has given him a new perspective on work and the job market, adding: “Working is my priority.” He sees instructors as role models for success. On a personal note, Michaël says that he has more self-confidence. He is very proud of all he has gained and is motivated to maintain a balanced lifestyle. Furthermore, he states that he has developed good relationships with his coworkers and feels that he is more tolerant and able to adapt to others.
Michaël plans to explore the job market independently to put his skills into practice. “Employment helps me to be financially independent. Working is good for the soul, physical health and psychological health.”
He would like to feel equal to others by contributing to society. Michaël will soon be able to benefit from the Community Employment Services (CES) program, another initiative supported by CORCAN, offered to offenders by specialized community employability resources.
According to his instructor, Bruno Houle, he has every chance of success: “He is a very good worker and a fast learner. He is resourceful, respectful and shows initiative. He is becoming more and more social and very respectful.” Furthermore, the instructor added that he now finds him better equipped to find future employment. In short, he has complete confidence in his abilities.
Currently, in the Quebec Region, in addition to the 24 institutional workshops, CORCAN has a community workshop at the National Engineering and Technical Support Center (NETSC) that also offers work experience to help facilitate job reintegration. It goes without saying that the furniture installation project for parolees, like Michaël, is another great opportunity for reintegration. All of these experiences allow offenders to increase their employability, thereby facilitating access to the job market.