According to the latest figures released by the IOD, a staggering 11 million people in the UK have a criminal record. Their numbers also suggest that only around 25%  of British businesses would hire an ex-offender. As the skills shortage hits UK industry, is there a potential pool of talent being overlooked?

Understandably, businesses are reluctant to hire those with a criminal record, raising concerns about their reliability and integrity. As a consequence, only around 17% of inmates manage to find a job within a year of release and become more likely to reoffend or fall into the “career criminal” category after other legitimate avenues become closed off. Reoffending also costs the UK – wiping an estimated £15 billion off UK GDP a year.

Several charitable organisations and some forward-thinking businesses around the country are determined to address their own skills gap and also help harbour the talent of offenders. NACRO (The National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders)  offer valuable guidance and advice to businesses considering hiring ex-offenders, ensuring they put the right processes and procedures in place.

Many companies have had plenty of success hiring offenders, finding them to show high levels of performance and a commitment to succeed against the odds. Obviously not all experiences are positive but some may argue that there are no guarantees with any new recruits. Large organisations such as Greggs, Timpson, Virgin Trains and Marks & Spencer have all made their recruitment policies inclusive.

At Whitehead Ross we are committed to helping adults and young people achieve their full potential irrespective of their circumstances and past history. The focus is on offering an inclusive service and breaking down barriers.  Our Employability team in Wales, for example, works closely with the National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies. As part of this we support offenders on release from prison and while on probation. We offer Employability, Training, Education and assist with barriers in order to try and get these people back into employment successfully.

So whilst it is not without risk, hiring ex-offenders can bring businesses much needed skills and talent, and at the same time help deter reoffending.  92% of inclusive employers say that their willingness to recruit ex-offenders enhanced their reputation and helped them to win new contracts.


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Recruitment of ex-offenders. Could it be the answer to skills shortages in UK businesses?