Can ex-offenders help to plug the City’s skills gap?

Mon, July 2nd, 2018

Post Brexit

Research released by City & Guilds and Emsi this month* revealed that nine out of 10 employers are struggling to recruit the skilled staff they need. As we head towards a change in the labour market following our departure from the EU, there is a growing concern among businesses that this is only likely to get worse.
In Liverpool itself, last year’s Employer Skills Survey by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, highlighted the recruitment difficulties that many employers in the city are facing right now.

On National Employability Day (29 June) Novus, a social enterprise who deliver education, training and employability support to men and women in prison establishments across the country, hosted a unique conference in Liverpool iconic St George’s Hall. Key organisations in offender training and employability, and leading employers, came together to discuss how ex-offenders can offer a genuine employment solution, which they believe will support local businesses who are struggling to recruit the skilled staff they need.

Barbara McDonough, Novus Chief Operating Officer explains: “We work with 66,000 adults and young people in 60 prisons across the UK, providing rehabilitation, training and support to enable offenders to be placed into work when they leave the justice system. In the last year we have trained and placed 140 offenders into employment in the North West, specifically into skilled environments such as construction, catering and hospitality, engineering and manufacturing, and transport and logistics.”

One employer who Novus is working in partnership with is Amey, who are currently working with several prisons, including HMP Liverpool, to embed their 'Passport to Employment Programme'. The programme aims to help men and women nearing the end of their sentence to gain high-quality work placements alongside their facilities management teams as they progress from vocational training, so when they leave they are going into work opportunities with confidence for themselves and their families, reducing the likelihood of re-offending.

Amanda Fisher MD, FM, Defence and Justice at Amey said: “At Amey, we believe in hiring the best people for the job. For me, hiring ex-offenders is not only the right thing to do but it also makes good business sense. There is a growing skills gap within our industry and within our prison population. The 'Passport into Employment’ is a training programme we have in place as part of our prison maintenance contracts and helps to rehabilitate men and women back into society, giving them skills for employment on release and reducing the risk of reoffending. I am proud to be able to support the rehabilitation programme with this initiative.”

Each year, in England and Wales, approximately 66,000 ex-offenders will return to society after their sentence. This is an untapped labour market that could offer a genuine solution to employers looking to plug their skills gap.

With the average cost of recruiting and training a new employee estimated at least £5,000, this cost could be saved if employers had access to a pipeline of potential employees who have been trained in new business skills.

Barbara McDonough, Chief Operating Officer at Novus, continued: “We know that offenders are much less likely to commit further crimes if they are able to enter the world of work when they leave prison. This is a real opportunity for us to develop new partnerships with organisations and support them in fulfilling their skills needs. We work across all sectors, placing ex-offenders into a broad range of industries. By working together we can transform the lives of people in custody and equip them with the knowledge and experience they need to succeed.”

Meet the Members

Novus- Foundations for Change

Novus- Foundations for Change

Novus, Openshaw Campus, Ashton Old Roan, MANCHESTER, Greater Manchester, UK, M11 2WH

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