Building construction skills for ex-offenders

Two men talking outside, with a cubby house and playground in the background.

Jared McLeod, Minister of Manifold Heights Baptist Church, and Christopher Blackwell, from the Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety, check out the playground created thanks to the Career Builder program.

This story was first published on Wednesday 23 October 2019. If you wish to use this content, please contact to confirm that the information is still current.

Employment program Career Builder is helping ex-offenders gain skills in construction to assist them to re-enter the workforce.

The community-based program in Geelong, Victoria, is a collaboration between the Victorian Department of Justice, Gordon TAFE and local Employment Facilitator Simon French.

A training course was held at Gordon TAFE over 20 weeks, with participants attending two days per week. It was delivered by a construction qualified trainer from Gordon TAFE and a careers counsellor from the Skills and Jobs Centre with experience in training ex-offenders in basic work skills.

The training included a mixture of employability skills and hands-on learning of construction skills, for example carpentry, plumbing, landscaping and bricklaying.

The Department of Justice and Community Safety provided additional support and supervision throughout the duration of the project.

Simon French said the program not only provided training but also helped with rebuilding confidence, connections and gaining relevant experience.

As the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Employment Facilitator for the Geelong region, Simon works with a broad range of local stakeholders — including state government, business and the wider community — to develop programs and activities for job seekers.

“Ex-offenders are at high-risk of disadvantage in finding employment. The Career Builder program provided participants an opportunity to sample a range of new trade skills and give something back to the community,” Simon said.

Fourteen people took part in Career Builder this year. The program helped them meet their obligations under their community correction orders, and in doing so they also helped build a new playground for a local church.

After completing the program, the graduates received career guidance information on how to pursue a variety of trades.

More information


  • Watch a video to see how the Career Builder program was developed.

From the newsroom

Correct at time of publication.