Justice Secretary David Gauke revealed last week that 120 more businesses have registered to work with prisons and ex-offenders to help them secure jobs. Newly-registered businesses could join more than 300 already working in prisons.
The businesses have come forward in the 6 months since the launch of the Education and Employment Strategy, which set out a series of measures to boost prisoners’ skills while in custody and improve their chances of securing work on release.
With reoffending costing the taxpayer £15 billion each year and evidence showing that ex-offenders in employment are up to 9 percentage points less likely to commit further crime, it can only be a positive project.
Culture change has proven to be the biggest hurdle as companies need to be open to change in the offenders ways and see their potential as an employee, a tricky feat for any employer.
However, many businesses have expressed their interest from various sectors including construction and retail, and they could join employers such as Virgin Trains, DHL and Recycling Lives which are among more than 300 around the UK already seeing the benefits of employing those with a criminal record.
Working alongside the Ministry of Justice, interested businesses will explore how to take forward their relationship with prisons.
Justice Secretary David Gauke said:
“I passionately believe that building up offenders’ skills and helping them into work encourages offenders turn their backs on crime, benefitting them and society as a whole.
I am delighted that so many businesses are recognising the value of giving ex-offenders a second chance and a job — their interest sends a clear message to offenders that if they work hard and behave well in prison then real opportunities await them.
I would encourage more businesses to consider getting involved in our New Futures Network and help ex-offenders into work.”
Andy Milner, CEO of Amey, said:
“At Amey, we believe in hiring the best people for the job, no matter what their background or history. For us, hiring ex-offenders is not only the right thing to do but it also makes good business sense.
There is a growing skills gap within our industry and within our prison population there is a pool of highly motivated people learning new skills such as engineering, carpentry and plumbing who just need someone to believe in them to help change their lives.
The ‘Passport into Employment’ programme we have in place as part of our prisons maintenance contract together with our waste recycling partnership with Recycling Lives is helping to support men and women to transform their lives and demonstrates our commitment to rehabilitating ex-offenders.”
The academy is due to open in February 2019, with prisoners working to get the building itself ready prior to that.