Take a chance on ex-offenders, WMCA skills boss urges business

Conference hears calls to ensure labour market is used to its fullest.

Firms should take a chance on employing ex-offenders, the West Midlands Combined Authority’s director of productivity and skills has told a conference in Birmingham.

Dr Julie Nugent (cover pic) also urged delegates to think of new sources of talent – including the long-term unemployed – to meet their skills needs.

The Future of Business: Employment Solutions in Light of Brexit – the Untapped Labour Force conference was held at Canalside in Birmingham, organised by Prospects, one of the leading providers of in-prison education. Dr Nugent said: “The WMCA is committed to inclusive growth. We welcome the economic growth that is happening across the region but we need to ensure that prosperity is shared by all.

“Many businesses are already working with ex-offenders and offering them a chance to realise their full potential. The conference provided more businesses with the chance to hear these success stories and, hopefully, encouraged more employers to consider the talent that many ex-offenders have to offer.”

Other keynote speakers included Henrietta Brealey, director of policy and strategic relationships at Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, and Andrew Cleaves, director (improving skills) of Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership.

Victoria Blakeman, Prospect’s director of offender management and specialist services, said: “From the West Midlands Combined Authority to the Chamber of Commerce, all are encouraging business to support local communities through the provision of opportunity and growth. The event gave an opportunity to find out how ex-offenders can provide a source of labour resource to meet the challenges of growth across the Midlands, supporting the social responsibility agenda.”

Prospects works with National Careers Service in Custody and provides education in Feltham Young Offenders Institution in London. For more than twenty years it has combined business excellence and public service values to inspire more than half a million young people and adults across the UK every year to develop their potential.