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The Good Jobs Project
The Good Jobs Project aims to fill job shortages with marginalised talent, including people with criminal convictions.

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Creating a more inclusive society

The Good Jobs Project, led by the business charity ReGenerate, is a new alliance of stakeholders, including businesses, government bodies, investors, and support organisations, all united by a common goal: to bridge the gap between labour shortages and marginalised groups seeking employment opportunities.

In a new report published earlier this week (3 July 2023), the project argues that its approach generates a “triple win” which means that:

  1. Businesses can fill their vacancies and maximise value creation,
  2. Individuals facing marginalisation can find meaningful employment and improve their life chances,
  3. Society benefits from increased productivity, growth, and reduced costs associated with worklessness.

The report is based on a year long study based on a survey of 500 hiring managers, HR and recruitment professionals and senior business managers; interviews with HR professionals and recruiters; focus groups and a series of one-to-one consultations.

© Good Job Project "Triple win"

Key findings

The area of offender employment is one that has been high on the agenda both of government and the charity sector over recent years but when I dig behind the headlines and look at the data in detail, I see real but only limited progress. The Good Jobs Project research seems to confirm this impression. Here are some of their key findings:

  • Relatively high awareness of the opportunity is not turning into action. While many businesses are aware of the benefits of diverse recruitment, there is often a gap between awareness and tangible action. 70% of respondents felt that more than half of the marginalised groups we asked about could fit well in their organisation, yet only about 20% were taking steps to recruit from most of the groups. A quarter of respondents reported they had not taken any active steps to recruit from any of the groups.

  • Some groups are even more distant from good jobs than others. Disparities exist in access to quality employment opportunities among marginalised groups. These can also be amplified for individuals facing intersecting forms of marginalisation. We must address these specific challenges to ensure inclusivity. About 87% of employers said that groups such as single parents and ethnic minorities could fit well in their organisation, compared with 64% and 49% of employers reporting that people with mental health conditions and criminal records could fit well in their organisation, respectively. 28% of respondents said their organisation has taken active steps to encourage job applications to recruit young people, compared with 10% to recruit people who are or have been homeless or have a criminal record.

Focus on people with criminal convictions

Below I reproduce in full the project’s summary of the current challenge and opportunities relating to helping people with experience of the criminal justice system into work:

Current employment landscape 

Only 25% of men and 20% of women leave prison into some form of employment and only 17% of ex-offenders each year are in work within 12 months of leaving prison.
Barriers to employment

  • Half of employers would not consider recruiting an applicant with a criminal record. Questions asked at the application stage are often unclear and limited guidance or reassurance is provided for how a prospective employee with a criminal record would be treated by the employer.
  • Employers can hold negative preconceptions that ex-offenders are not trustworthy and an unsuitable ‘fit’ for their workplace. Yet many people hold criminal records following relatively minor, old offences for which they never spent time in custody and still face significant barriers to employment. Less than 10% of people with a criminal record go to prison.
  • The proportion of prisoners with mental health problems is significant. Up to 90% of prisoners have have a drug or alcohol problem, personality disorder or other mental health issue, all of  which can result in routine exclusion from vocational rehabilitation programmes.
  • Offenders who have been in care make up between 25% and 50% of the Criminal Justice System population. Care experience can weaken employment prospects through a lack of support networks.
  • The high risk of homelessness on release and lack of support in finding accommodation is an additional barrier to securing work. Around a third of people leaving prison report having nowhere to stay.

The opportunity
90% of businesses that employ ex-offenders found them to be motivated and trustworthy employees, and 81% of people think that employing ex-offenders makes a positive contribution to society. Employing ex-offenders yields a wider economic and societal benefit: reoffending can cost the UK economy £13 billion annually. Evidence shows ex-offenders in secure employment after prison are nine percentage points less likely to reoffend.

Recommendations

The report calls on the government to implement three main policy reforms to facilitate more inclusive recruitment:

  1. Provide a 12 month employee National Insurance holiday to lower the financial risk for employers
  2. Adopt our reform package to make the Apprenticeship Levy more accessible to marginalised groups
  3. Develop a centralised knowledge bank to make it easier for business to recruit from marginalised groups
 

Thanks to Nathan Dumlao for kind permission to use the header image in this post which was previously published on Unsplash.

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2 Responses

  1. HI i would really like to discuss this project with someone if possible? It looks really interesting and like something i am trying to set up in Hampshire, I’m really keen to learn from this project

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