A Staffordshire prison recruited an inmate to carry out refurbishment work after he impressed officers with building skills he had learned during his jail term.
Duane Barton was serving the last four months of a three-year sentence for grievous bodily harm when officers at Swinfen Hall, near Lichfield, suggested he could gain work experience by joining a company contracted to refurbish the site
The 21-year-old, who was released a few months ago, gained City and Guilds certificates in building and painting and decorating, as well as an NVQ level 3 in Business Start-up, to add to his previous labouring experience and work as a tiler.
His construction potential was spotted by a prison officer, who felt he should gain work experience without leaving the prison.
Mr Barton was then chosen to work on a project to build and improve the prison's ancillary facilities.
Building contractor Morrison was so impressed by Mr Barton it offered him a permanent position.
Simon Courtney, project manager for Morrison, said the placement was a success.
"We did not have many reservations about taking on a prisoner - more preconceptions," he said. "There is a great tendency to stereotype people. It was useful that Duane already had some qualifications but it was just as important that he fitted in and got on well with people at all levels. If someone makes the effort then we are pretty embracing as a team.
"We'd certainly be willing to consider further placements as and when suitable prisoners become available."
Mr Barton is a construction trainee with the company and will continue to develop his building skills.
He said: "My immediate ambition is to be a trustworthy employee. Once I've spent more time on different trades I'll have a better idea of which direction I want my career to go in.
"I have learned a lot about health and safety, the different trades and, in particular, how they all come together on site.
"I've got on well with the other lads and really enjoyed the work. I have also been glad of something to do as it can get pretty boring inside."
Currently ten of the 620 prisoners, aged between 16 and 25, have gained work experience in the community at a local retailer, barracks, warehouse, pallet firm and arboretum.
Prison governor Pete Knapton is aiming to get a further 30 prisoners work experience next year.
He said the construction industry could play a key part in future resettlement strategies.
"Having a job and an income on release significantly reduces the likelihood of reoffending," he said.
"As governors we are increasingly trying to prick the social conscience of big corporations and encourage them to take on ex-offenders. If we are going to turn lives around we need them to help us.
"Ultimately, our aim is to take this one step further and to provide the facilities and training for delivering courses tailored specifically to interested companies.
"As a result, prisoners should, in principle, have employment waiting for them on discharge."