Making the business case for recruiting people with convictions

HouseofcommonsI was so pleased to welcome many of my supportive employers to the House of Commons last week to celebrate the first year of our CITB, Apprenticeship Levy funded project, ‘Mind the Gap’.

Led by Lendlease we are working with prisons and in the community to identify and recruit, men and women, interested in working in the construction industry. With funding for industry standard training and work tasters, the project can support people on release into employment and beyond.

This initiative has allowed A Fairer Chance to do what we do best, to bring real employers with real jobs into prison. We introduce employers to people who really want to forge a career in construction, be it “muddy boots”, project, and administration or management roles.

The post release support element of the project means A Fairer Chance, and partner , Beonsite and Bounceback, can provide effective post employment support for both the individual and the employer for at least six months.

Most heart warming for me was that I had been able to invite people that I had met in custody, some of them as long as six years ago. They attended not as beneficiaries but as operatives, supervisors and managers working for my great enlightened and supportive employers.

This is a three year project and we will continue to deliver tailored events, in custody and in the community, with our partners, until 2020.

As part of this project NACRO have produced guidance for construction employers wanting to find out more about recruiting people with convictions. It is a practical guide and can be downloaded at www.nacro.org.uk/training-and-consultancy/mind-gap-project/

A Fairer Chance works across all sectors and has now placed more than a thousand people into jobs, across a wide range of occupations. Lots of our people have gone on to forge successful careers and given hard work and loyalty to the employers who gave them a break.

This includes more than eighty women working on ROTL (Release on temporary licence). This offers the very best chance of successful resettlement.  “Working out” allows women to save for a rent deposit and, in many cases, keep their job on release.

There are more than 10,000,000 people in the UK with a criminal record. The cost of re-offending is estimated to be up to £13 billion .For example; we have over 86,000 people in custody in the UK.  It costs over £38,000 to keep someone in prison for a year. The only way we get payback for the public purse is if these people are paying tax and national insurance. At this time the UK has huge skills and labour shortages. It only makes sense to start seriously considering people, who have like most of us made mistakes in the past, to fill these gaps.

We cant always shout about the work we do with our, mainly private sector, companies. Nor about the amazing individuals we are able to help move into work. They have been through the criminal justice system and now just want to get on with life, without being identified as being different from the rest of the population.  A Fairer Chance operates a business approach to what we do. Our candidates are well prepared and generally gain their jobs on merit, not as a part of a separate CSR initiative, though we do realise different challenges need different solutions  and there are some great programmes out there offering different approaches.

If you are an employer, looking to gain an edge and make a difference in these very challenging times myself, my team, my employers and my successes are all keen to talk about what you can do to access this rich pool of talent and help you navigate the Criminal Justice system.

June 2018

www.afairerchance.co.uk