Yesterday Justice Secretary David Gauke announced plans for offenders to be placed into employment on day-release during their custody to help them rehabilitate and find work after prison, while also serving sectors short on skilled workers.
The strategy is aimed at cutting reoffending rates and increasing employment and will offer education, training and work to prisoners in custody.
While the initiative is primarily designed to fill anticipated worker gaps in industries like catering, construction and agriculture after Brexit, mobility companies across the board know how tough it is to attract and find new staff these days.
Under the new strategy, prison governors will be given the power to commission education and training programmes which provide offenders with the skills that real-world employers are looking for. This will be tailored to meet specific labour market requirements in the prison’s local economy.
Mr Gauke is calling on employers to drive ‘cultural change’ within their organisations. He said he wants more employers to look past an offender’s conviction to their future potential.
“We do that by working more closely with employers to open their eyes to the benefits of hiring ex-offenders…but this is not just about creating a path to employment from institutions to employers, but about creating cultural change from within organisations themselves.
“I want employees, from the shop floor to the boardroom, to call out and challenge employers who turn a blind eye to attracting and representing ex-offenders in their workplace.”
“I want prisons to be places of hope and aspiration that propel offenders into employment, and ultimately help to reduce the number of victims of crime in the future.
Jane Gratton, head of business environment at the British Chambers of Commerce, added: “Businesses are experiencing skills shortages at all levels in the workforce. We welcome this initiative, which gives an opportunity to train up offenders with those workplace skills that everyone needs to succeed.
“Providing different ways of training for those in custody will help boost the talent pool in the workforce, and enable regional economies to thrive.”