Addressing the skills shortage: How we’ve helped our clients employ ex-offenders

Date: 28/01/2020

The skills shortages across construction are so highly documented that no one can deny finding a solution is crucial to the industry’s future success. However, as businesses continue to tap into the likes of school leavers to encourage them to choose a career in the sector, there’s one group of possible staff that we’re encouraging clients to employ: ex-offenders.

Engaging the disengaged

In the UK, the reoffending rate in an ex-offender’s first year out of prison is almost 30% - that's 30,000 adults who commit another crime after serving their sentence. The challenge for these individuals is that they leave prison with nothing. They have gone a length of time without employment and they often have little to no money to their name. So, they end up caught in a vicious cycle.

However, if given the right opportunity before their sentence is up, these individual’s can prove to be a highly engaged workforce. Having access to employment experience through ROTL schemes (Released on Temporary License), where they can give back to their local community, these individuals can gain vital employment skills – they just need someone to give them a chance. And that’s where the team at One Way decided to step up.

Working with our construction clients

We engaged with the New Futures Network (NFN) – a not for profit that puts serving offenders out on temporary license to enable them to develop a career while in prison – to bring ex-offenders from HMP Ford together with the construction employers we work with. The resulting partnerships have, in our view, been a resounding success. In fact, one of the companies we worked with, Wates, featured on BBC News just last week, with both the employer and our candidate providing a real insight into the positive impact it can have on businesses and ex-offenders alike.

The individual, Mo Bangura, was coming to the end of his sentence and was keen to have an opportunity for work once he was out of prison. Through our partnership with New Futures Network, we placed him on a site for Wates, and everyone involved was pleased we made the introductions:

Duncan O’Leary, CEO, New Futures Network, said:

“It was great to hear what a positive start Mo has made and the wider impact employment has had on his life. NFN are looking forward to working with Wates Residential and One Way on future projects; and to support prisons to put forward talented, motivated individuals to be part of their workforce.”

Paul Nicholls, Managing Director for Wates Residential, added:

“Everyone deserves a second chance and the Brighter Futures programme offers a real opportunity for ex-offenders to access sustainable training employment opportunities to support their rehabilitation back into the community and set them up for the future. It also makes real business sense to recruit from a wider talent pool if we are to remain fit for the future and address the industry’s widening skills gap.”

From our perspective at One Way, we went above and beyond the normal call of duty to ensure Mo had everything he needed and really got the most out of this opportunity. This included being on-site with him for his first day and helping him settle into life outside of prison. We invested in his training to help him thrive and set him up for the best possible success. The team even aided his search for accommodation and set up a pay package that ensured he could afford his travel to and from site. But don’t just take our word for it, here’s what he had to say:

Watch the video of Mo here

Employing ex-offenders: It truly is life changing

While there’s the obvious benefits to businesses in the construction field when it comes to employing ex-offenders, the impact it has on an individual’s life is the biggest reward from our point of view. We’ve been in to HMP Ford and spoken to those affected directly and we see first-hand the true impact having someone believe in them and give them that one opportunity can have on their mental well being and general motivation. And our clients see it too, as Adam Smith, a surveyor from Crayfern Homes – who we originally piloted this scheme with - explained:

“We’re really proud of the fact that we were one of the first businesses to work with One Way to take on ex-offenders from HMP Ford and give them the chance to benefit from work experience. We’ve actually had an individual who has been with us for 12 months now who we’ve transferred to another job. For us, it was when we went in to the prison itself that we recognised the real impact projects like this can have on everyone involved. Unfortunate circumstances can land anyone in prison and sometimes all it takes is someone to believe in them to help them get themselves back on track.”

“I’ll admit it did take some persuading after One Way first mentioned it, but we soon realised we’d be daft not to give it a go. We’ve been really impressed with the training that these individuals get at HMP Ford – we’ll definitely continue to work with our local community to offer more opportunities to help rehabilitate ex-offenders.”

If you want to find out more about our work with New Futures Network or want to get involved, contact us today.

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