Getting ex-offenders into work is vital for them, for society at large and can be great for businesses, which is why I visited an employment fair at HMP Thameside last month, set up to match offenders close to release with local employers looking to fill job vacancies.
Visiting a prison may not currently be at the top of many recruitment strategies and some employers might still have reservations about considering offenders as future members of staff. But what I experienced on my visit was a room filled with potentially loyal and resilient guys who were ready and eager to work and grateful for the opportunity to be judged on their abilities, not their past.
What was equally impressive was meeting the group of businesses there who recognise the value of recruiting on the basis of talent and potential – not background. And it makes absolute business sense. Despite record employment figures, we know that we still have over 800,000 vacancies in the UK. It’s clear that businesses need to look beyond the obvious to really consider where untapped talent might lie.
In the UK, some people face specific barriers to moving into work. See Potential seeks to show how a few simple changes to your recruitment practices could make a difference in recruiting people from all kinds of backgrounds.
These include care leavers, ex-offenders, homeless people or people at risk of homelessness, long-term unemployed people, people recovering from addiction, single parents and some military veterans.
This encourages employers to recognise the benefits of recruiting people from all kinds of backgrounds, including ex-offenders.
Evidence from business suggests that people from disadvantaged groups can become some of your best employees. They’re more likely to show up on time, they’re loyal and they bring with them an element of personal resilience, which is really valuable.
Of course there are wider business benefits too. We know that responsible business is becoming increasingly important to investors and consumers. And inclusive recruitment and valuing staff welfare is also key to building a better workforce.
Finding the best person for the job isn’t just a business need, it’s vital for the success of your organisation. Thousands of employers – including M&S, Greggs and Halfords – are already doing the right thing by giving ex-offenders a chance to turn around their lives; and are reaping the rewards of widening their talent pool as a result. Can your business really afford to miss out?
And find out how a few simple changes to your recruitment practices could make a big difference to your business.