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  • Writer's pictureClare Jerrom

Rise in former offenders gaining employment

The number of former offenders who have successfully gained employment within six months of release has more than doubled from 14% to 30% since April 2021, according to government figures.

Ex-prisoners in steady jobs are known to be up to 9 percentage points less likely to commit further crimes, meaning the move not only tackles re-offending rates but also plugs labour shortages to help boost the economy.

Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk MP KC, said: "Our drive to improve prison education and business links is helping cut crime, with more prisoners going straight into work on release than ever before.

"Helping reformed offenders kickstart a new, law-abiding career is a win-win - it makes our streets safer while providing businesses with the reliable staff they need to help drive the British economy."

Business chiefs from firms such as the Co-op and Greggs have helped spearhead initiatives such as Employment Advisory Boards, which have been rolled out in 92 prisons to help improve the education and training on offer.

Education programmes and workshops geared to local workforce needs are also helping offenders learn new skills and access a vibrant business network as they prepare for release.

The proportion of prison leavers finding work within six weeks of release has increased from 15% to 19%, with a further 30% being employed after 6 months, up from 23% since April 2022.

Prior to this rise, the government rolled out one-stop hubs in prison where prisoners can access career advice and help with CV writing – similar to job centres in the community. The Prison Service has also been running nationwide, month-long recruitment drives focused on getting offenders into particular sectors that are facing recruitment challenges such as hospitality, construction and manufacturing.

Chief executive of youth justice social enterprise WIPERS Sammy Odoi said: "Encouraging former offenders into education, training or employment opportunities is key to breaking the revolving door of re-offending and we welcome the rise in former offenders gaining meaningful employment."

"We urge employers involved in these schemes to recognise the advantages of having the voluntary and community sector mentoring former prisoners, in particular young disadvantaged people, to assist them with the job seeking process, but also providing a sounding board for the young person to discuss their concerns or worries about starting employment. Having a trusted adult to empower them and encourage them and proving that someone that 'has their back' can really benefit young job seekers."

"A combination of gaining meaningful employment alongside a mentoring scheme could be a real game-changer for young people who have previously been involved in the youth justice system," concluded Sammy Odoi.


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