Surprise study results suggest more than half of North-East employers set to hire ex-offenders in 2023
The study comes after North East businesses claim they are struggling to fill job vacancies.
Work from Sodexo, which runs HMP Northumberland, has found recruitment challenges are encouraging local employers to consider ex-offenders for job vacancies.
The findings mark the launch of the group’s new campaign, ‘Starting Fresh’, which will encourage and provide guidance to businesses on proactively hiring ex-offenders.
Numbers from the study which was carried out early this year found 49% of North East businesses are struggling to fill more than ten vacancies in their organisation, higher than the UK average of 43% while 36% of business leaders in the region also say they do not believe they currently employ any ex-offenders.
With vacancies not being filled, the study also found that 55% of local companies would say they anticipate hiring ex-offenders in the year ahead.
Sodexo commissioned research of 1,000 owners and senior leaders with hiring responsibilities across British businesses, finding 61% will be hiring ex-offenders in 2023, while 21% say they will not.
When asked about their greatest concerns, 25% agreed they were worried employees would re-offend, and the same proportion agreed they feared for the safety of the rest of their workforce. More than one in five agreed that they wouldn’t trust them to behave appropriately at work.
Commenting on the findings and launch of the new campaign Tony Simpson, Justice Operations Director at Sodexo said: “While not all ex-offenders are prison-leavers, an important aspect of this campaign is to help employers understand the quality of learning which takes place in prison. Nearly 50,000 people leave prison every year, many emerging with formal qualifications they didn’t have before.
“Prisoners at the sites we manage are prepared to be job-ready for the opportunities in the outside world, whether that be in IT support, cleaning, catering, hospitality or hairdressing and beauty.
"It can be a win-win situation because there is a huge skills shortage in many UK sectors, and we believe ex-offenders could absolutely help to plug some of these gaps, while providing a more stable and secure income, and a better future, for the individual. It’s positive to see the majority of businesses suggesting that they will employ from this largely untapped talent pool in 2023.”