California Prison Industry Authority, Rehabilitation

CALPIA launches soft skills training for incarcerated individuals

CALPIA soft skills training participants and officials stand in Folsom prison.
Participants of the ESW Program at FSP, along with CALPIA Acting General Manager Bill Davidson, Warden Rick Hill, Workforce Development Coordinator Ray Harrington and Co-Author and ESW Developer Robin Harrington.

The California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) plans to expand soft skills training to incarcerated individuals in its programs after the end of a successful Essential Skills for the Workforce (ESW) pilot program.

The ESW program introduces life and professional skills necessary to be successful in the workplace such as communication, enthusiasm and positive attitude, teamwork, networking, leadership, problem-solving, critical-thinking, conflict resolution, workplace ethics, creative thinking, time management, and flexibility and adaptability.

In September, the Prison Industry Board approved an ESW pilot program for select CDCR incarcerated persons assigned to CALPIA enterprises. Nearly 90 people who participated in CALPIA have already successfully completed the program.

CALPIA turns to training soft skills

“While CALPIA provides technical skills that may get a graduate’s foot in the door, people skills are what keep doors open and help secure future job opportunities,” said Bill Davidson, CALPIA’s Acting General Manager and Executive Officer of the Prison Industry Board. “CALPIA has taken the extra step in our role in rehabilitating incarcerated individuals of introducing this program that helps people to communicate and collaborate effectively in the workplace.”

CALPIA’s Workforce Development Branch created the ESW workbook. Staff Services Manager II and Workforce Development Trainer Regina Banks and Lead Workforce Development Coordinator and former CDCR Chief Deputy Warden Robin L. Harrington worked with CALPIA staff and incarcerated individuals for their input and review.

“As we equip incarcerated individuals with technical work skills to reenter the workforce, we also must acknowledge that soft skills are an essential part to their success in not only getting a job, but keeping a job,” said Harrington. “This workbook was developed to highlight workplace expectations that are universal and apply to any trade, profession, and career.”

Folsom State Prison Warden Rick Hill was also involved.

Developing a self-paced workbook

Building on research, common workplace practices, and curriculum for justice-involved individuals, the ESW workbook is self-paced and self-reflective. This pilot program aligns with the CDCR and CALPIA mission to facilitate the successful reintegration of individuals to their communities.

Incarcerated individuals are also introduced to interpersonal and social skills, self-awareness, managing emotions, managing stress, as well as empathy and professionalism in the workplace.

The ESW pilot project involved approximately 10 to 15 participants at several institutions which included:

  • California Correctional Institution
  • California Institution for Women
  • CSP-Corcoran
  • Central California Women’s Facility
  • Folsom State Prison and Folsom Women’s Facility
  • Mule Creek State Prison
  • CSP-Solano
  • Valley State Prison.

Program participants were monitored through a case management process. This allowed workforce development coordinators, superintendents, and supervisors to:

  • mentor participants
  • address questions and concerns applying soft skills in pre- and post-work situations
  • check-in with participants and monitor progress.

CALPIA anticipates offering the ESW program to all participants in CALPIA job training programs starting next fiscal year.

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