A recent survey from the Federation of Master Builders made clear that the sector is facing recruitment challenges. 26% of SME house builders say that the shortage of skilled workers is blocking them from building new homes and 30% of firms foresee an increase in staffing levels in the next quarter.
The NFN was set up to help businesses bridge these gaps and explore new recruitment opportunities. We’re a specialist part of the prison service that broker partnerships between prisons and employers. I started this role after working in the prison service and use my first-hand experience every day in helping businesses find the best options for them.
There are three ways businesses can work with prisons. This includes:
- Employing serving prisoners – Setting up training and production facilities within prisons with a dedicated space and workforce. This includes training in bricklaying, drylining, plumbing and welding.
- Release on temporary licence – Giving risk-assessed prisoners, in the last two years of their sentence, the opportunity to work while on day release.
- Employment on release - When ex-offenders are available to work and have full employee rights.
We can support organisations to decide with of these opportunities are most suitable for their business needs.
The construction companies already leading the way
Over 500 businesses - including many well-known construction companies such as JP Concrete, Balfour Beatty and Keltbray - are already benefiting by hiring highly skilled and motivated ex-offenders and two out of three companies that employ ex-offenders recommend others do the same.
For example, Wilmott Dixon has successfully set up a drylining academy in HMP Elmley and ran a ‘Building Lives’ academy in Liverpool aimed at giving offenders the skills they need to get jobs. A third of those on the course gained employment after.
And it is not just the skills that makes hiring ex-offenders attractive. Loyalty is a key quality ex-offenders are valued for, according to businesses already employing them. They value their job as a second chance, which results in fewer sick days, lower turnover rates and increased staff retention.
Wider corporate social responsibility
Ultimately working with prisoners doesn’t just make business sense but is also helping to reduce re-offending. Currently only 17% of ex-offenders manage to get a job within a year of release but we know that ex-offenders who do get a job are up to 9 percentage points less likely to re-offend.
Concerns about public opinion are also unsupported. Research shows that 3 out of 4 people would be comfortable buying from a business that employs ex-offenders and 79% of people think that businesses employing ex-offenders are making a positive contribution to society.
Contact the NFN
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