Fair opportunities: employing prison leavers

by Jun 18, 2021News

The second in a series of I&D events hosted by the City & Guilds Foundation went live on Tuesday the 8th of June, this time focusing on inclusion in the context of employing people with lived experience of the justice system. This event featured guest speakers Surini Ranawake of the New Futures Network, James Timpson of Timpson Group, and Claire Wood of Deloitte.

In case you missed it, you can catch up in full by watching the recording, but here’s a quick rundown of some of the panel’s key messages. (Note: all of the points made in this post belong to the speakers, not myself; I’ve just tried to provide an accurate summary here.)

Watch the recording of the event

​​Challenging misconceptions

Although assumptions about prisoners tend towards the extreme, negative end of the scale, the reality is that many people who go through the prison system are there for low-level offences and partly because they’ve faced disadvantages early in life and/or difficult circumstances beyond their control.

Contrary to popular belief, these individuals often have valuable skills, education and experience gained from before serving their sentence, as well as from training that they’ve received while in prison (in some cases, to industry standards).

Above all, they’re incredibly motivated – they’re keen to learn, contribute and develop so that they can find secure employment to support themselves and their families, and be able to reintegrate into their communities. In fact, 82% of employers who responded to a New Futures Network survey said that prison leavers were their most highly motivated employees.

​Providing the right support

​Mentoring can be a powerful way of helping people to make contacts and access networks that they would have no way of reaching otherwise, so that they can find opportunities for training and work. 

One of the most effective ways to bring prison leavers on board is to bring them into full-time employment as soon as possible, allowing them to adjust to the rhythm of working life and quickly gain a clear objective of what to do on the job.

People with previous experience of the justice system deserve to be treated the same as anyone else: with fairness and respect. Additionally, there are some issues where extra consideration may be needed, such as disclosure and confidentiality of an individual’s conviction history – guidance on how to navigate these is available to employers (e.g. resources provided by the charity Unlock​).

Focusing on the future

Ultimately, prospective employees should be judged on their potential, not their past. Prison leavers represent a wide pool of talent that’s typically overlooked when hiring, but are able to bring incredible enthusiasm and capability to an organisation when given the chance.​

Make a pledge to building equity, claim a digital credential and share with your networks.

Want to be kept up to date?

Sign up to City & Guilds Foundation email alerts and newsletter

Previous posts

Princess Royal Training Award recipients change lives by investing in mental health training for staff

Did you know more than 1 in 7 people have mental health problems in the workplace?  As part of the UK’s Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 May 2022), we’re spotlighting some recent Princess Royal Training Award winners who are seeing huge results from investing in...

48 UK organisations celebrate the Princess Royal Training Awards with HRH Princess Anne

On Thursday 28th April, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, welcomed 48 organisations to Mansion House in London to celebrate them receiving Princess Royal Training Awards for their commitment to training and development in 2021.   Currently in its sixth...

Connecting Communities: new free service to support London residents into full time employment

Connecting Communities: Your Bridge to Success Connecting Communities is a free service that can support eligible individuals* into full time employment. There are lots of jobs in the City of London, and Connecting Communities can help individuals by: Improving basic...

Co-op Levy Share: working together to fund thousands of apprenticeships

On Tuesday 5 April, City & Guilds Foundation held an event in partnership with The Co-op discussing how large organisations with unspent apprenticeship levy can share funds with smaller businesses in need as part of their Levy Share initiative. Aimed at businesses...

[Podcast] Lost Opportunities: The Hidden Cost of Caring

To celebrate Young Carers Action Day, Lauren Roberts, our Foundation Advocacy lead invited Rosario Waterlow, Corporate Partnerships Executive to talk about her lived experience of being a young carer and navigating the education system and employment. Listen to hear...

No Going Back: City & Guilds Foundation supports The Livery Company initiative

There are few occasions since setting up City & Guilds some 144 years ago when the Livery Companies have worked together towards a single objective. And that’s why we’re delighted that through the City & Guilds Foundation we’re able to support the new and...

City & Guilds launch latest research report and campaign: Great Jobs

Recognising the essential jobs that keep the UK working As the economy reopens, Covid-19 restrictions are loosening and we are continuing to grapple with the impact of Brexit and evolving labour market needs brought about by the fourth industrial revolution and...

New Year Honours: celebrating achievements of extraordinary people in our network

City & Guilds Foundation would like to congratulate some of our Fellows, Council Members, customers and PRTA Alumni for being recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours List. Congratulations to Jenny Taylor (MBE), member of the City & Guilds Council and...

Event: Leading Through Values

Let’s talk about values in leadership In October 2021, ILM published Leading through Values, a report researching the importance of values.  The report features case studies from a number of businesses, exploring what values mean for them, how values are being...

[Podcast] Inclusion & Diversity Series: Gender Diversity – a women’s panel

As part of the City & Guilds Foundation Inclusion and diversity events series, offering thought-provoking conversations and actionable steps to promote equal opportunities and improve inclusion and diversity in your organisation. In this event we...

Podcast episodes

Share This