Independent unionist MLA Claire Sugden, whose father was a prison officer, attended a passing out ceremony for new recruits to the service at Hydebank Wood yesterday.
It was one of her first acts as justice minister.
The 20 staff will start work in Maghaberry next week.
She said her father had been very proud of his job, adding: “I think that is a crucial part of today – service, pride and community.
“The Prison Service has undergone significant change over the past few years. Its core purpose remains to provide safe, decent and secure prisons, however along with that is the focus on rehabilitation.
“All of the new recruits who are graduating today are starting a new chapter in their lives and are now an important part of the wider justice family.
“They now have the opportunity to play their part in helping to build a safer community. That is a very special responsibility.”