UK Businesses Urged to Hire Ex-Offenders Amid Labor Shortages

The UK government urges businesses to hire ex-offenders, a win-win solution tackling labor shortages and reducing reoffending, as KPMG leads the way in providing opportunities for reformed prisoners.

Salman Akhtar
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UK Businesses Urged to Hire Ex-Offenders Amid Labor Shortages

UK Businesses Urged to Hire Ex-Offenders Amid Labor Shortages

The UK government is urging Britain's biggest businesses to recruit prison leavers as part of a national campaign to reduce reoffending and fill job vacancies. With an estimated 1 million job openings across the country, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) believes this initiative can help address labor shortages while keeping former offenders on the right path.

KPMG, one of the Big Four accounting firms, has become the first white-collar British business to employ ex-offenders as part of a government pilot program. The firm has already hired its first cohort of prison leavers in various roles, including in its technology department. KPMG UK CEO Jon Holt stated, "Our focus on social mobility is about giving everyone, regardless of their background, the chance to succeed. Reformed prison leavers should be no exception."

The MoJ reports that the proportion of ex-offenders successfully directed into jobs within six months has more than doubled between 2021 and 2023. Businesses that have employed prison leavers describe them as motivated, having good attendance, and trustworthy. An unnamed former prisoner who secured a job at KPMG through the program expressed gratitude, saying, "It gave me hope and put me on the right path, preventing me from going down a different, potentially more harmful, path."

Why this matters: The drive to employ ex-offenders not only helps fill the UK's labor gaps but also aims to reduce the £18 billion annual cost of reoffending. By providing prison leavers with stable employment opportunities, the government hopes to break the cycle of crime and support their reintegration into society.

Prisons and Probation Minister Ed Argar MP commented, "Our drive to get ex-offenders into employment is cutting crime, reoffending, and growing the economy as part of our long-term plan for growth." The government has introduced measures to upskill and educate prisoners, including establishing the New Futures Network to connect hiring businesses with prisons. Additionally, changes have been made to significantly reduce the time people with criminal convictions are legally required to declare them when applying for jobs.

As the UK faces a labor shortage crisis, with skills shortages in some sectors at their highest level since 2008, the government is encouraging more businesses to follow KPMG's lead in recruiting prison leavers. The MoJ emphasizes that this initiative is not only helping ex-offenders start law-abiding lives but also providing businesses with the staff they need to boost the British economy.

Key Takeaways

  • UK govt urges businesses to hire prison leavers to reduce reoffending and fill jobs.
  • KPMG becomes first UK firm to employ ex-offenders as part of govt pilot program.
  • Proportion of ex-offenders securing jobs within 6 months more than doubled 2021-2023.
  • Hiring ex-offenders aims to reduce £18 billion annual cost of reoffending in UK.
  • Govt introduces measures to upskill prisoners and reduce job application disclosure time.