TARGETjobs black logo

About Unlocked

Unlocked turns talented graduates into inspiring leaders through a two-year development programme focusing on prisoner rehabilitation and reducing reoffending.

Who are/what is Unlocked?

Unlocked Graduates is a two year programme that is putting brilliant graduates and career changers at the heart of prison reform. At the moment, nearly half of all prisoners re-offend within a year of release, creating yet more victims, causing untold damage, and costing the UK more than £15bn. Our solution is a unique leadership programme where participants work as frontline prison officers while completing a fully-funded master’s degree in leadership. They support prisoners to turn their lives around, lead system change and develop the skills to excel no matter where they go in the future.

The problems facing prisons are some of the most complex in our society. Our graduates need to be ambitious problem solvers who are willing to hone their skills at the frontline while also thinking about the big picture. Gathering intelligence and using their negotiation skills whether on the landing or in the Governor’s office.

We provide a comprehensive package of benefits to all of our participants. As well as the skills and experience you’ll gain from working, you’ll receive the full support of an experienced Mentoring Prison Officer; career development opportunities with corporate partners (e.g. PwC, EY, Freshfields), government bodies and not-for-profits; and a competitive salary of c.£30,000.

But we’re not just looking for people who can excel at the job. We want people who can help shape the whole system for the better. That’s why as the part of the programme, our Unlocked Graduates do a fully-funded, bespoke master’s degree focusing on leadership and rehabilitation. Combining academic study with real-world experience will give you the tools to trial and assess your own solutions in your prison. In your second year, you’ll have the opportunity to contribute to a policy paper and present your findings to the Ministry of Justice.

When you’re working as a prison officer, no day is ever the same. Helping some of the most vulnerable and challenging people in society means always being prepared for new situations, and always ready to be an advocate, negotiator, diplomat and leader – all at the same time. You’ll develop your skills in leadership, communication, relationship-building, decision-making and resilience, and change lives while you do.

Following the two-year programme you’re free to decide whether to stay or leave the prison system. Either way, we’ll continue to support your development as part of a growing network of change-making alumni putting their new skills into action. Being a prison officer is about so much more than locking up – and with Unlocked Graduates, it can really open doors.

Unlocked officer: the role

Unlocked officers attend an intensive six-week training programme before beginning work as a prison officer and continuing their training on the job throughout the two years.

Unlocked Graduates work as frontline prison officers, supporting men and women to turn their lives around whilst also leading system reform.

The day-to-day activities vary, with the primary focus being on maintaining the security and well-being of everyone, as well as supporting prisoners to engage with beneficial activities. Prison officers build relationships with the prisoners in their care, while always being aware of any challenges to prison safety. As graduates on a prestigious and demanding programme, Unlocked officers are expected to identify actions and strategies that help prisoners rehabilitate and break the cycle of reoffending. That could mean accessing courses within the prison’s education and skills programme, maintaining or renewing contact with family on the outside, or offering additional teaching in literacy or numeracy while on the prison wing. Or it could just mean listening to prisoners and helping them confront their situation.

Unlocked Graduates implement change to increase the likelihood of rehabilitation. All Unlocked Graduates complete a fully-funded, bespoke master’s degree alongside their fulltime role, and can contribute a policy paper to the Ministry of Justice during their second year.

The role of an Unlocked prison officer means being an advocate, negotiator, diplomat and leader all at the same time – and understanding how small changes on the inside can yield life-changing progress on the outside. Unlocked officers develop skills in leadership, communication, relationship-building, decision-making and resilience – all of which are valuable in a wide range of working environments.

At the end of the two-year programme, Unlocked expects graduates either to progress into careers where their experience and knowledge of the issues surrounding rehabilitation will enable them to take positions of responsibility and advocate for further positive change, or to remain with the prison sector and lead further change from the inside.

Graduate opportunities

Applications are now open for the 2019 cohort. Please visit the Unlocked website to apply.

Internships / placements

Unlocked Graduates offer summer internships at their head office and brand manager opportunities on campus. Applications for both open in the Spring.


  • More from Unlocked

    The facts

    Number of graduate vacancies per year overall: