More than 90 business experts have been enlisted as prison employment advisors to help drive thousands of prison leavers into work and away from a life of crime.
Bosses from top firms including the Co-op, Greggs, Iceland, and Oliver Bonas have now been appointed as Employment Advisory Board chairs in all 92 resettlement prisons, which help prepare prisoners nearing the end of their sentence for release into the community.
The Boards link prisons to leading business figures who can offer their expertise on the skills, qualifications and training needed to help prisoners re-enter the workforce.
Using these insights, prisons can tailor their training and workshops to match local labour market demands so ex-offenders are job-ready when they walk out the prison gate.
The initiative was launched in March 2022 and will play a crucial role in boosting the UK economy while tackling the £18 billion annual cost of reoffending, with ex-prisoners in steady employment being nine percentage points less likely to reoffend.
Getting more prison leavers into work helps to protect the public and the number in employment 6 months after release increased by almost two thirds between April 2021 and March 2022, from 14 per cent to 23 per cent.
Deputy Prime Minister, Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Dominic Raab said: “Our innovative scheme is helping to get ex-offenders into work, keeping them on the straight and narrow while providing businesses with the staff they need to grow.
“We are already seeing the rewards with more prison leavers in work six months after release – helping them turn their backs on crime, contribute to society and saving the taxpayer money.”
Research from the Ministry of Justice shows that 90% of businesses that employ ex-offenders agreed that they are good attenders, motivated and trustworthy*. Harnessing the talent from those leaving the prison is already supporting employers to fill vacancies bringing benefits to businesses and the UK economy.
Dan Whyte, former prisoner, founder and Co-Director of DWRM Consultants, said: “When I received my life sentence, I had no qualifications at all, but I was determined to use my time inside productively by studying and focusing on the career I wanted when I walked through the prison gates.
“Having a job gave me the direction I needed to stay on the straight and narrow after my release, and I now run a successful business helping prisoners get access to university training and education.”
Richard Walker, Exec Chairman at Iceland Foods, said: “The rehabilitation of offenders back into the workforce can offer huge benefits to UK businesses and give those individuals seeking employment a much-needed lifeline. At Iceland we feel it’s the right thing to do, and although we’re at the beginning of this rehabilitation journey we are already seeing how it can offer real societal and business impact.
“Employment Advisory Boards allow business leaders, including Iceland’s own Director of Rehabilitation Paul Cowley, an inside track to support ex-offenders, equipping them with much needed skills that employers like us will value both now and in the future.”