CORCAN – Employment and Employability

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is helping federal offenders get marketable job skills so they safely reintegrate back into the community.

CORCAN – An overview

CORCAN is a special operating agency within the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) that offers employment training and employability skills to offenders in federal correctional institutions, to support rehabilitation and help lower rates of re-offending.

As a key rehabilitation program for CSC, CORCAN uses on-the-job training to help offenders develop and practice essential employment skills. CORCAN also offers third party-certified vocational training in areas where the labour market is growing, including construction, trades and entrepreneurship training. Through CORCAN, offenders can get valuable on-the-job training that prepares them for jobs in trades such as carpentry, cabinet making, mechanic, electronic, welding, and auto repair. CORCAN also helps offenders learn and practice employability skills such as reliability, time management and working with others in a realistic work environment.

In addition to technical skills, CORCAN’S National Employability Skills Program (NESP) teaches offenders “soft skills” (e.g., communication, working with others, problem-solving, etc.) that are needed in all workplaces. NESP also gives offenders the chance to practices these skills in real work environments.

CORCAN operates in over 100 shops in 29 CSC institutions across Canada, including three community-based operations. CORCAN has four business lines: Manufacturing, Construction, Textiles and Services (such as printing and laundry).

CORCAN’s products and services are sold internally to CSC and externally, primarily to other federal government departments and agencies.

CORCAN by the numbers

  • In any given day, approximately 1,769 offenders are working in CORCAN operations across the country. Over the course of a year, more than 4,288 offenders benefit from CORCAN’s on-the-job skills training, receiving over 2.4 million hours of training.
  • CORCAN offers on-the-job training in six of the nine National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.
  • In Fiscal Year (FY) 2015-2016, 107 offenders were registered under CORCAN as apprentices in areas including: Residential Framing Technician, Welder, Industrial Mechanic (Millwright), Painter, Carpenter, Electrician, Plumber and Cabinetmaker.
  • Offenders also earned 14,382 certificates in FY 2015-2016, with Indigenous male and female offenders receiving 28 per cent of certificates. These were earned through vocational training in areas such as construction trades, non-construction trades, the food industry and a variety of safety training.
  • In FY 2015-2016, Community Employment Coordinators found 2,484 community employment opportunities for offenders (2,317 placements for male offenders and 167 placements for women offenders).

CORCAN’s partnerships

Private and public sector partnerships are an important part of CORCAN’s work. For example, offenders are learning employment skills and getting training opportunities through:

  • Partnerships with community colleges, where offenders can take construction framing courses and help build modular buildings used by other government departments.
  • Partnerships with several Indigenous communities, where offenders use their carpentry skills to build modular homes at their institution. These homes are then delivered to the Indigenous communities. CORCAN is also continuing its partnership with Habitat for Humanity on similar projects.
  • Private partnerships with small- to medium-sized companies such as Wallace Beef that give offenders the chance to get experience outside of their institution and log apprenticeship hours.
  • Social initiatives that support public safety and global humanitarian aid, such as helping to build military simulators and supporting the government initiative to help 25,000 Syrian refugees resettle in Canada.
  • Smartpods by CORCAN is the first and only “active motion workstation” that moves up, down, in and out at preset rates and times to improve whole body health without disrupting the user’s work. Users only need to set up a profile, and the desk takes care of the rest. Smartpods are fully customizable, with a range of finishes, sizes, configurations, and options available.

Did you know? Research shows that:

  • Offenders who had jobs in the community were almost three times less likely to return to custody with a new offence than those who were not working Footnote 1.
  • Sixty-one percent of male offenders and 69 per cent of Indigenous men and women offenders who earned trades-related certifications from CORCAN were able to find jobs in related fields Footnote 2.

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Footnote 1

Outcomes for Offender Employment Programs: Assessment of CORCAN Participation

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Footnote 2

Does the Type of Community Employment Obtained by Offenders on Release Correspond with their Institutional Vocational Certification?

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