The CBI has welcomed the government's Green Paper on reducing re-offending rates through training and education.
CBI director-general, Sir Digby Jones, said employers could play a pivotal role in rehabilitating ex-offenders.
"Far too much crime is committed by habitual re-offenders. Better education and skills training with a strong focus on finding work are the key steps towards reducing re-offending," he said.
"Many companies are already involved in the successful rehabilitation, resettlement and training of offenders. The private and voluntary sectors should be given the opportunity to extend this work throughout the criminal justice system."
Government figures show that more than half of all prisoners only reach the education level expected of an 11-year-old in reading, writing and maths and more than half re-offend within two years of being released.
Jones said: "The key to successful employer involvement is to provide better education and training in prisons and then support employers and ex-offenders in dealing with the transition to employment and life outside."