A recent one-year study from The Good Jobs Project, led by the business charity Regenerate, reported that unemployed ex-offenders, homeless people, young people in or leaving care, neurodivergent people and refugees among others, are being overlooked for work. Ex-offenders alone could help make a huge dent in filling our 1.1 million vacancies. This solution would not only tackle one of the worst labour shortages we’ve ever seen, it would also help us in our drive to create a more inclusive society in the UK.

Dawn Kemp, Group HR Director comments: “With only 1 in 5 ex-offenders finding work six months post-release, we have a long way to go to combat the fact that people with a criminal conviction, are one of the social groups least likely to be employed. The prison services themselves are under a lot of pressure to improve the situation too, with Government targeting them to get 30% of released prisoners into employment after release. That’s why as a group, Kinovo has been actively engaging with prisons over the last couple of years, visiting facilities including HMP Belmarsh, Brixton, Wandsworth and an open prison in Suffolk. We also partner with Maggie Walsh MBE’s A Fairer Chance Organisation set up to help break the cycle of reoffending and support offenders into sustainable work.

“Of course, we can only do this by talking to serving and soon to be released offenders about what’s available; sparking their imagination to join a vibrant sector and give them something real to aim for.  Different people from within the business, including myself have been visiting prisons to share the message about our training, apprenticeships and opportunity for experienced tradespeople. It was fascinating to talk with individuals, and we found they were all genuinely keen to get back into the real lives with a job.

“During one of our visits to Belmarsh, talking to 20 individuals within the prison’s Employability Hub, we gave them a real insight into our sector by introducing them to Ozay Kemal, a Purdy Domestic Gas Engineer and Michael McIntosh, Purdy Site Manager at Hackney. Hearing real life stories about being on the tools, and professional progressing, sparked a lot of interest, with more debate following on how to qualify, on-the-job training and the support we can offer to those who really want to turn their lives around.

“We’re passionate about people and believe that everyone deserves the chance to thrive in employment. By not overlooking potential employees because of their past, for those who have the right attitude and commitment to change, we are helping society, and helping the diversity of our business. We have a social responsibility to provide sustainable employment opportunities for the under-represented which within our sector includes women, LGBTQ community, BAME and ex-offenders. Our social value commitment includes improving people’s lives and the communities in which we work and part of that is to help prison leavers get back to work.”

Dawn concludes: “I’ll leave the last words to one of the offenders we met at Belmarsh which I believe shows we’re on the right track to deliver this:

“It showed that there are opportunities outside, no matter your past”