Meurika Stewart will leave prison with a job in the construction industry thanks to a new training scheme sponsored by Bovis

A new training scheme is giving prisoners and the long-term unemployed the opportunity to work in construction.

Meurika Stewart is one of those taking advantage of the BeOnsite scheme sponsored by Bovis Lend Lease, which provides training in new skills such as prefabricated building techniques, smart buildings, sustainable development and environmental technologies.

Stewart, who is serving a prison sentence for drug offences, said governors put her in touch with the BeOnsite scheme: “Life wasn’t great, I was doing a lot of drugs and got into trouble. But about a year ago I decided to turn my life around, I had had enough.”

Now training as a dry-liner with a Bovis subcontractor, Stewart leaves the prison for practical training and attends West Herts College. She will begin earning money in January, half of which will be saved after her release from HMP East Sutton Park in a year’s time.

She said: “Not a lot of people want to give you a chance but Bovis Lend Lease is not looking at the past, it’s looking at what, given the support, you can give in the future.”

The BeOnsite organisation will work directly with specialist contractors to identify training gaps within the industry and will then source both the funding and training provider to deliver bespoke training.

Candidates will then be recruited through Job Centre Plus and following their training will be employed by BeOnsite to begin working on site for the specialist contractor on a ‘try before you buy’ basis.

According to Val Lowman, managing director of BeOnsite, the aim of the organisation is to deliver all parts of the jigsaw. “We aim for BeOnsite to eventually grow so that it can offer trainees to the construction industry across the country. This is a long term solution to the issues of skills shortages and inner city unemployment”.

Currently there are 29 people on the scheme, but by 2010 it is hoped that around 3000 people will have been helped into jobs.

BeOnsite has been formed in partnership with Jobcentre Plus, Construction Skills, the London Development Agency and the Learning Skills Council. It is a not for profit organisation.