A study of ex-offenders' work prospects has called for a national communication strategy to influence employers’ attitudes to hiring ex-offenders.
The poll by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Employing ex-offenders to capture talent, questioned 474 employers and found that ex-prisoners are a largely unused pool of talent which could help alleviate skills shortages in many sectors.
But organisations are most concerned about ex-offenders having soft workplace skills like honesty, reliability and good personal behavioural skills, not just basic numeracy and literacy.
Despite this, four-fifths of employers who had successfully employed ex-offenders said they settle into work well with colleagues, perform well and are reliable.
The report called on the government to improve communication about the support that is available for employers and to work with the media to change stereotypes about ex-offenders.
It labelled training provision in prisons “patchy”, with offenders who frequently move locations suffering the most.
“This seriously reduces rehabilitation prospects for offenders. For training to be successful in leading to jobs, its availability needs to be consistent across all prisons,” the report said.
However, the government insisted it was doing enough to work with employers.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said: “In December 2006, we published the Reducing Re-Offending Through Skills and Employment: Next Steps document to which a significant number of employers and employer organisations contributed.”
She pointed to a report from the Chief Inspector of the Adult Learning Inspectorate which described the improvement in prison learning and skills as “the most heartening success”.