Employers are being urged to explore all options in the recruitment process, with a call to adapt existing practices in order to secure suitable candidates. That was the message from the Essential Workers Meeting held by Liz Truss MP, DWP Breckland and West Norfolk for Jobs and the prison service. A number of businesses from across the area including 2 Sisters Food Group, Gs Growers, Fairfax & Favor and Shire Foods attended the event at the Bedingfeld Arms, Oxborough and heard presentations from Mary Scales DWP Partnership Manager, Julia Nix DWP District Manager, and Martin Edwards Head of Reducing Reoffending HM Prison and Probation Service.
With businesses across the county showing a number of vacancies, Mary Scales and Julia Nix from DWP outlined the work being done with 18-24 year olds, disability groups, career returners and local employers in order to match up suitable jobs. The prison service also highlighted their work with offenders to secure employment on leaving prison. In Norwich Prison, prisoners are working across a number of sectors including cooking, hospitality, gardening, brick laying, electrical and decorating. Work also extends to warehouse operations where prisoners pack all the breakfast boxes for UK prisons. The millennium library is also supporting prisoners to become self-employed with training on how to manage their accounts. The prison service work closely with DWP and employers to ensure ex-offenders and business are well matched, encouraging prospective employers to come into prison to meet any future employees.
Liz Truss MP commented afterwards ‘The work that is being done to support our young people, those with disabilities and ex-offenders into employment is fantastic. At a time when there are a number of job vacancies, if business think differently about their recruitment procedures, look more at the skill set required and adapt accordingly, moving away from the conventional route of recruitment, then perhaps more people will progress through to employment. Helping ex-offenders gain work gives them the best chance of a future, reduces re-offending and so hearing about the practical work being done by the prison service is great. I know across a number of sectors, recruitment of staff is a significant issue. I have raised these points with the Home Secretary and have been pressing for the seasonal workers scheme to be extended to include food processing and manufacturing.’
Julia Nix DWP District Manager ‘I was delighted to be part of a very open discussion on recruitment issues and was pleased to be able to offer an alternative view to encourage employers to recognise the hidden talents of a diverse customer group, which included ex-offenders, people with autism, single parents and people with disabilities.’
If business would like more details – please contact Martin Edward Head of Reducing Reoffending HM Prison and Probation Service 01603 708822
Mary Scales DWP PARTNERSHIP MANAGER MARY.SCALES@DWP.GSI.GOV.UK
Photo: Essential workers meeting Bedingfeld Arms, Oxborough. Photo by C.Parker