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KPMG joins drive to recruit prison leavers

Britain's biggest businesses are being urged by the government to recruit prison leavers as part of a national campaign, supported by KPMG UK, to reduce reoffending and grow the economy.

Image courtesy Ministry of Justice

The professional services firm – as part of a new pilot programme – has become the first white collar British business to employ ex-offenders as part of a government partnership. This is in addition to their wider efforts to support and retrain prisoners whilst in jail.  

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Having successfully employed their first cohort of prison leavers in a range of different roles, including technology development, they are now working with the Ministry of Justice to encourage other big-name businesses to follow suit.    

Not only does this grow the economy and help fill some of the estimated one million vacancies in the UK job market but it also helps secure employment which keeps former offenders on the straight and narrow, helping tackle the £18 billion annual cost of reoffending and cut crime.   
 
Prisons and Probation Minister Ed Argar said: "Our drive to get ex-offenders into employment is not only cutting crime and reoffending but is also growing the economy as part of our long-term plan for growth, which is why we’ve partnered with KPMG UK to encourage other businesses to follow suit.

"We’re helping prisoners kick-start law abiding lives, which makes our streets safer and provides businesses with the staff they need to boost the British economy.

KPMG UK Chief Executive Jon Holt said: "Our longstanding focus on social mobility is about giving everyone – regardless of their background – the chance to succeed. I believe reformed prison leavers should be no exception.

"As well as creating permanent jobs opportunities, our New Futures pilot builds on our existing support through mentoring and skills workshops and our Redemption Roasters coffee shop in our head office.  

"We want to play our part in helping prison leavers turn their lives around."

The latest figures show that the proportion of ex-offenders who have been successfully steered into jobs within six months has more than doubled in the two years since April 2021.  

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Prison leavers in full-time employment are also roughly 10 percentage points less likely to re-offend when released and more than 90% of surveyed businesses who employ prison leavers report they are motivated, have good attendance and are trustworthy.   

Reflecting on his own journey after prison, a KPMG UK employee and ex-offender said: "It was rejection after rejection, businesses never looked beyond my criminal record. It felt quite belittling because no one’s looking at your skills and experience – that generates a lot of anger and frustration, it was very tempting to give up.

"KPMG’s pilot programme wasn’t just refreshing to see, it’s a lifeline that gave me hope. To get a job at KPMG – it’s a miracle. It put me on the right path. I could have gone down a totally different path, but now I’m putting the past behind me and have a bright future. That’s all thanks to KPMG giving me a chance."

This latest recruitment campaign follows a range of measures introduced by this government to upskill and educate prisoners as part of a major effort to secure them employment on release from prison.    

This includes the establishment of New Futures Network, a specialist employment team that operates across the Prison Service and connects hiring businesses with prisons so employers can fulfil their recruitment vacancies. Following the introduction of the 2021 Prisons Strategy White Paper, they have also:  

  • recruited dedicated employment leads in 93 prisons across England and Wales, tasked with developing employment strategies and matching prisoners with jobs  
  • launched Employment Hubs across the prison estate so offenders can access support and employment opportunities on release
  • worked closely with the New Futures Network to rollout Employment Advisory Boards to 93 prisons - chaired by UK business leaders, the boards are linked with their local prisons to offer their expertise on the skills, qualifications and training needed to help prisoners re-enter the workforce
     
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