CORCAN - Employment and Employability

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

CORCAN – An overview

CORCAN is a special operating agency within the CSC that provides employment, vocational training and employability skills to all 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 to support their employability, including manufacturing, construction, culinary trades, customer service and entrepreneurship training. Through CORCAN, offenders can get valuable on-the-job training that prepares them for jobs in areas such as carpentry, cabinet making, mechanic, electronic, welding, food preparation, esthetics, horticulture, landscaping, building services and auto repair.

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

CORCAN operates approximately 100 shops in 31 CSC institutions across Canada and four community-based operations (Community Industries) in five business lines: manufacturing, construction, textiles, services (such as printing and laundry), and agribusiness.

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

CORCAN by the numbers

  • On any given day, approximately 1,067 offenders are working in CORCAN operations across the country. Over the course of a year, more than 3,700 offenders benefit from CORCAN’s on-the-job skills training.
  • CORCAN offers on-the-job training in eight of the nine National Occupational Classification groups
  • In FY 2017-18, 572 offenders were registered as apprentices under CORCAN in areas related to trades such as residential framing technician, welder, industrial mechanic (millwright), painter, carpentry, electrician, plumber and cabinetmaker, among others.
  • Offenders also earned 14,100 vocational certificates in FY 2017-2018, with Indigenous offenders receiving 28 per cent of those certificates. These were earned in areas such as construction, manufacturing, culinary trades and a variety of safety training.
  • In FY 2017-2018, Community Employment Services helped identify 2,583 community employment opportunities for offenders (2,395 placements for male offenders and 188 placements for women offenders).


Private and public sector partnerships are an important part of CSC’s work, including support of the Employment and Employability program. 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 Indigenous communities, where offenders use their carpentry and construction-related skills while incarcerated, including working on modular facilities for Indigenous communities.
  • CORCAN’s continued partnership with Habitat for Humanity.
  • Private partnerships with small- to medium-sized companies that give offenders the chance to get experience outside 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.
  • Partnerships with other government departments to provide access to a full range of employment and employability programs and services upon release to the community.

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
  • Fifty-eight per cent of offenders who obtained a trade certification found community employment in this area.Footnote 2

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