Community Scoop

Hawke’s Bay employers encouraged to employ offenders

Press Release – Department Of Corrections

Businesses from Hawkes Bay were today urged to consider offenders as employees at a breakfast function hosted by the Corrections Department (Wednesday 13 September).Hawke’s Bay employers encouraged to employ offenders

Businesses from Hawke’s Bay were today urged to consider offenders as employees at a breakfast function hosted by the Corrections Department (Wednesday 13 September).

The event followed similar breakfasts in Wellington, Hamilton and Christchurch aimed at getting employers to hire people with previous criminal convictions. The three previous breakfasts have generated jobs, vacancies and a high level of interest from genuine employers.

Corrections already employs eight offender recruitment consultations who match vacancies to suitably-trained and motivated candidates. In 10 months they have placed 583 people into work.

“Since the breakfast series started, vacancies have been listed with Corrections and more employers are taking notice of what Corrections is doing to get people ready for the workforce,” says Stephen Cunningham, Corrections Director Offender Employment and Reintegration.

“To date, 140 memoranda of understanding have been signed by Corrections and employers nationally, that will offer 1,292 job opportunities. That includes 23 agreements with Hawke’s Bay employers offering 113 vacancies. Nationally, the placements cover a vast range of industries including construction, horticulture, hospitality, agriculture and manufacturing to name a few.

“It’s encouraging to see commitment from employers. Having a job reduces reoffending and helps offenders lead more crime-free life. Giving someone a second chance is not only good for them, it’s good for the employer and good for the community.”

Steady employment leads to less re-offending, which in turns results in few victims of crime. Corrections works to upskill offenders and help them gain qualifications.

More than 100 employers and stakeholders attended the Napier event, where they heard from two employers and two former prisoners who are currently employed.

Employers heard that offenders may be eligible for a Starter Pack, which contains a contribution of up to $1,500 to help reduce or remove barriers to offenders accepting a job. This can be used to purchase tools, clothing, training or a bike to get to work.

Corrections has also renewed its Employment Support Services (ESS) contract, which helps offenders find employment following release from prison.

More than 500 former prisoners have already found work through the initiative, and others are being supported to help maintain their jobs. The service will now expand to include all regions.
ESS offers a full package of support to prisoners and community offenders, including pre-employment preparation, help to find and secure a job and then up to six months in-work support. In the last financial year 232 offenders were placed in employment.

A partial package is available for offenders and who already have a job but who may benefit from having six months support to help them maintain that job. This enables the employers to have a more stable workforce.

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