Working with ex-offenders is not a tick the box exercise

17 November 2016
Image of a construction worker and medical worker.
Speak to an expert about your challenge

In today’s competitive market, having a workforce with world-class skills has never been more important. The success of any business is driven by people; that being said, it’s never been more challenging to attract the right people.

As the UK skills gap continues to grow, despite increased focus on talent programmes such as apprenticeships and graduate initiatives, businesses must widen the net and take advantage of every opportunity to build a more skilled workforce.

One potential talent pool that is often overlooked is ex-offenders. Research from Business in the Community (BITC) found that 9 in 10 ex-offenders wanted to find employment when they finished their sentence but the majority feel that having a criminal conviction makes it very difficult to get a job.

While it’s illegal for businesses to reject a potential candidate just because they have a criminal record, for many employers, the stigma attached to offending often means the chances of a person with a criminal record getting work is seriously damaged.

Ex-offenders are not a minority group. More than 10 million people in the UK have a criminal record and according to CIPD, the issue of re-offending costs taxpayers around £11billion every year – so it would appear that there’s a chance for everyone to benefit from more businesses working with ex-offenders.

BITC has launched ‘Ban the Box’, a campaign which aims to end discrimination against job seeking ex-offenders by asking employers to remove the tick box from application forms and asking about criminal convictions later in the recruitment process. Today, 64 UK companies including Amey, have signed up to make their commitment to creating fair opportunities to all.

But working with ex-offenders is about more than ticking – or removing – a box. It’s about embracing diversity, accepting that anyone can make poor life choices and taking a long-term approach to recruitment strategies aimed at ex-offenders. At Amey, giving people a fresh start is something that we passionately believe in. We’ve been working with Blue Sky (a social enterprise launched to help more ex-offenders into meaningful employment) for over a decade and helped more than 300 people into work, with nearly half of them staying with us in permanent roles.

We believe in hiring the best person for the job and giving all applicants a fair chance and so our interview process is exactly the same whether the individual has been to prison or not. Shrewd employers will know that working with ex-offenders is a pragmatic approach to recruiting highly motivated, capable and committed employees. After all, if a potential candidate has the skills you need or the aptitude to learn them then why wouldn’t you hire them?

Speak to an expert about your challenge.