Over recent years there has been a drive by well-known companies
to adopt socially responsible recruitment schemes to hire
individuals from marginalised groups, such as ex-offenders,
homeless people, army veterans and the long-term unemployed. Two
particular examples of this are Timpson, the key-cutting and shoe
repair company, and the well-known coffee shop, Pret a Manger.
Timpson were one of the first pioneers of such action. It runs
one of the most established programmes for helping ex-offenders
return to the workplace by offering training workshops in prisons
and employing individuals on day-release schemes prior to their
sentences being complete. The scheme has proved incredibly
successful, with over 400 ex-offenders still working at all levels
of the business, including at management level, since its inception
over 13 years ago.
Similarly, Pret's Apprenticeship Scheme has offered over 330
places to individuals since it started in 2008. The scheme also
provides access to accommodation, mentoring, counselling, a
clothing allowance and training so individuals can obtain jobs
within the Pret business. Over two-thirds of those offered a place
have since graduated from the scheme and are full-time members of
the business. Pret is also currently working in conjunction with
the prison service to roll out this scheme on a wider basis.
These companies however are by no means the only companies
providing such opportunities. Other companies focusing on this
issue include household names such as Marks and Spencer, the Virgin
group and Veolia, the rubbish collection and road sweeping company,
who have set themselves a target to employ 10% of new recruits from
Why are some companies focussing on this issue? According to the
Lincolnshire Action Trust, a charity which acts in partnership with
various agencies to improve the skills and employability of
offenders and prisoners, there is evidence to suggest that
ex-offenders are less likely to move between employers. These
individuals tend to appreciate the steps companies have taken in
giving them a fresh start and remain loyal employees with good
attendance and performance records. This therefore makes the
investment worthwhile and is a win-win situation for the company
given the high costs of recruitment and training. Further, and on a
wider scale, some businesses report an increase in overall staff
morale as employees feel good about the fact that they work for a
company that is actively helping people.
Regardless of the commercial and pragmatic benefits of this type
of recruitment, such companies should be applauded for the ethical
basis for such action. Statistics clearly show that ex-offenders
who find employment following release from prison are significantly
less likely to commit further crimes as they are in surroundings
that support their rehabilitation. Indeed, Working Chance, a
recruitment consultancy that assists ex-offenders in securing jobs,
reports that on average 65% of women re-offend within two years of
leaving prison. Compare that with females who find work through
Working Chance and that figure falls to just 1%.
It should therefore be welcomed that such well-known companies
are leading by example by offering these individuals a new start
with a clean slate. Hopefully more businesses will follow this
model and the trend for socially responsible recruitment continues
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