Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Thousands more ex-prisoners in work following major drive to boost employment [May 2023]

The press release issued by the Ministry of Justice on 24 May 2023.

More than double the number of ex-offenders found work following a major government drive to reduce reoffending and plug labour shortages to help grow the economy.

  • 116% rise in ex-offenders finding jobs within 6 months
  • boost follows raft of measures to reduce reoffending
  • Justice Secretary opens new DHL workshop staffed by prisoners

New statistics show rapid progress has been made to boost employment for prison leavers, with the number of ex-offenders who have been successfully steered into jobs within 6 months more than doubling from 14% to 30% since April 2021.

It is helping to cut crime and tackle the £18 billion annual cost of reoffending as ex-prisoners in steady jobs are known to be up to 9 percentage points less likely to commit further crimes.

Business chiefs from household firms such as Co-op and Greggs have helped spearhead initiatives such as Employment Advisory Boards, which have been rolled out in 92 prisons to help improve the education and training on offer.

Education programmes and workshops geared to local workforce needs are also helping offenders learn new skills and access a vibrant business network as they prepare for release.

The Lord Chancellor, Alex Chalk, officially opened one such workshop run by international logistics firm, DHL at HMP High Down in Surrey yesterday (23 May). It will function as a DHL warehouse for sorting and picking goods to be shipped to other prisons across the country giving prisoners experience of managing the movement of stock within the warehouse and the processing of goods.

Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk MP KC, said:

Our drive to improve prison education and business links is helping cut crime, with more prisoners going straight into work on release than ever before.

Helping reformed offenders kickstart a new, law-abiding career is a win-win – it makes our streets safer while providing businesses with the reliable staff they need to help drive the British economy.

Eight prisoners also worked on the construction of the workshop, with 2 now in full-time employment with major construction firm Galliford Try following their release.

Simon, who assisted with the construction of the workshop during his sentence at HMP High Down said:

Helping to build the workshop has taught me new skills and given me the confidence I need to pursue a career when I walk out the prison gates.

I now have a job waiting for me on the outside and that makes me hopeful I can make positive choices and stay on the straight and narrow.

The Lord Chancellor’s visit followed him meeting representatives from some of the UK’s leading businesses, at the annual Employment Advisory Board conference on 11 May.

Since April 2022, the proportion of prison leavers finding work within six weeks of release has increased from 15% to 19%, with a further 30% in work after 6 months, up from 23%.

These significant increases come after the government rolled out one-stop hubs in prison where prisoners can access career advice and help with CV writing – akin to job centres in the community. The Prison Service has also been running nationwide, month-long recruitment drives focused on getting offenders into particular sectors that are facing recruitment challenges, including hospitality, construction and manufacturing.

Building on this momentum, next month marks the launch of a campaign to get more ex-prisoners into the UK’s retail and logistics sectors, in jobs such as warehouse workers, shop assistants and online sales advisers.

Over the course of the campaign, business experts from the sector will deliver tailored workshops and jobs fairs to give them the skills and the insight they need to provide a positive contribution to the community as soon as they step out of the prison gates.

Prisoners are also supported by the Department for Work and Pension’s (DWP) Work Coaches, who help them to get job-ready through mock interviews and sharing tips on how to secure further training opportunities on release.

Mims Davies, Minister for Social Mobility, Youth & Progression, said:

The best route towards prosperity is through work, which is especially true for those re-entering society after time spent in prison. That’s why DWP employs prison Work Coaches across the country who work directly with offenders to boost their skills and get them job-ready for their release.

It’s great to see so many people following that route, and we will continue to highlight to employers, through our Jobcentre network, the contribution prison leavers can make to their business.

The new data follows a recent report by the Centre for Social Justice which sets out the benefits to the economy and society by getting more ex-offenders into work.

Joe Shalam, Policy Director at the Centre for Social Justice, said:

We welcome the work of the Ministry of Justice to unlock both aspiration and opportunities for people leaving prison. As well as a punishment and deterrent, prison time must be used to ensure that the cycle of reoffending is broken, protecting more would-be victims of crime.

Employment is proven to cut reoffending, while also providing prison leavers with the keys to a better and more stable life. It’s a rare win-win that we should be doing everything to achieve.