Most employers willing to hire ex-offenders if supported to do so

A majority of Irish employers would be willing to hire an ex-offender if they were provided with support to do so, according to new research by SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority.

SOLAS and Mountjoy Prison are jointly hosting an event at Ibec’s offices today on the benefit to workplaces of hiring ex-offenders.

According to a survey commissioned by SOLAS in the lead-up to the event, over 60 per cent of employers would be willing to hire an ex-offender if they were supported to do so.

Most employers and decision-makers (59 per cent) said they were unaware of any education programmes undertaken that aim to make those serving sentences more employable on completion of their sentence.

More than two-thirds (67 per cent) said the fact that an applicant had completed education programmes while serving their sentence would encourage them to hire an ex-offender.

SOLAS also surveyed members of the public, who said it wouldn’t bother them to work alongside an ex-offender (53 per cent) and it wouldn’t bother them to be served by an ex-offender in a customer service setting (68 per cent).

Nikki Gallagher, director of communications and secretariat at SOLAS, said: “The results of our survey on attitudes to ex-offenders in the workplace are largely positive. Over 60 per cent of employers would hire an ex-offender if they were supported to do so, and almost 70 per cent would be encouraged to do so if they knew the applicant had completed an education programme during their sentence.

“In 2018, there were over 8,500 beneficiaries of SOLAS-funded education programmes across the seven prisons in Dublin, of which 2,367 achieved accredited outcomes. Education programmes in prison are vital in helping to reintegrate ex-offenders into society on release. However, despite having completed such programmes during their sentence, many ex-offenders find it difficult to get a job.

“There are a number of supports available to employers to help them hire ex-offenders, such as training and employment officers who provide support to both the employer and employee before and during employment, as well as financial grants. Ex-offenders are often very committed, hard-working and loyal employees, appreciative of a second chance – there’s a whole pool of talent waiting to be employed.”

Eddie Mullins, Governor of Mountjoy Prison, added: “As Governor of Mountjoy Prison, I’ve seen first-hand the transformative effect education can have on prisoners’ lives – how they grow in confidence and self-belief as they complete courses and training.

“Often, on release from prison, this confidence is shattered, due to obstacles faced by ex-offenders in gaining employment, housing, and so on. There are huge opportunities for employers to benefit from hiring ex-offenders – they have undergone high quality education and training while in prison, and want to make positive changes in their lives through hard work and commitment. By availing of the supports available to them to hire ex-offenders, employers and society as a whole will reap the rewards.”

Tags: SOLAS, Prisons

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