The Cabinet Office have recently published a report detailing the summary of responses to their Call for Evidence on employing people with convictions. The report draws together responses from 76 organisations which demonstrate a set of key messages.
In 2018, the Cabinet Office and Ministry of Justice (MoJ) set out to collect evidence from employers regarding their views on supporting people with criminal convictions. There were a set of fifteen research questions which can be divided into three main themes. These are: inclusive recruitment practices; employability initiatives; and evidence and impact. The Skill Mill were one of 76 organisations which responded to the Call for Evidence. The organisations which responded were from the voluntary (46%), private (32%), and public (14%) sectors. A summary of responses was then published in 2019. You can read the full Call for Evidence Summary of Responses by clicking here. All participating organisations are listed on page 15 including The Skill Mill.
Our colleagues at Unlock have provided an insight into the responses, drawing upon some of the positive findings. Unlock state that the report highlights the excellence of the work being done in supporting people with convictions into and during employment. The stigma attached to having a criminal record, lack of previous opportunity and the negative societal attitudes towards children who have committed offences creates enormous barriers for children. Often even with the best will in the world children are unable to access education, training or employment opportunities which are vital to helping them move forwards with their lives.
The Skill Mill removes these barriers and enables them to gain work skills, knowledge and importantly confidence. Our young people are moved towards long term sustainable employment, and supported with this goal from the outset.
This consultation underlinesthe value to employers of recruiting people with convictions, noting that they are committed, eager to learn, and demonstrate the qualities of a good team member. The young people which The Skill Mill employ appreciate the opportunity to participate in meaningful work. This is evident when the re-conviction rate of young people who The Skill Mill has employed is compared with the national average. In 6 years, The Skill Mill has employed 127 young people. Just 15 of those have been re-convicted, meaning that our re-conviction rate is just12%, compared with the national average of 67%.
The evidence demonstrates five conclusive key messages. These are:
There are some indications (from the respondents to this Call for Evidence) that variations exist across the different sectors in relation to employing people with criminal records and at which stage of the recruitment this information is taken into account. Asking about criminal records should not constitute a barrier or a filtering criteria for offering employment;
Organisations that employ people with convictions across different roles - and responsibilities - reported having positive experiences, and affirmed that this part of the workforce constitutes an important asset thanks to their skills, commitment and experiences;
Attitudinal barriers across stakeholders, including customers, colleagues, and even people with criminal records themselves, are reported to be the main challenges to offering employment to someone with a conviction; consequentially cultural change is likely needed;
It is important to have activities that support and prepare people with convictions to be in the job market; examples are CV surgeries, mock interviews, mentoring schemes;
There is the need to produce and collect more robust evidence –in addition to case studies – that prove the positive impact of hiring people with convictions.