Businesses and government seek to remove barriers to hiring ex-convicts
- In the tight labor market, employers might look to ex-prisoners to help fill the labor shortage, reports Inc. However, barriers to hiring ex-convicts — including 20,000 state laws and regulations, skills deficits, cultural biases and fear — persist. Businesses and government want to remove those barriers. According to Inc., 70 million U.S. adults have criminal records, and 10 million return to their communities after their sentences.
- The White House recently hosted a meeting with business and government leaders to discuss hiring the formerly incarcerated. Participants called for more collaboration between governments and businesses to clear pathways from prison to employment; creating additional job-training programs in prisons; and raising the visibility of the U.S. Labor Department's (DOL's) bonding program, which vows for the honesty of hard-to-place candidates for six months.
- Inc. cited the progress lawmakers have made in removing employment barriers to ex-incarcerates by passing ban-the-box ordinances in 150 cities and counties across the U.S. Ban-the-box measures prohibit questions on job applications about prior convictions.
Employers who might not have considered hiring ex-prisoners before might reconsider the idea in this tight labor market. The formerly imprisoned could well become a reliable and much-needed talent pool, and they are typically on the list of overlooked talent pools, along with people with disabilities, veterans, experienced gig workers, customers, and current and former employees.
Ban-the-box ordinances aim to give the formerly incarcerated a fair start at the entry point of employment. In a time of increasingly difficult talent shortages, the most agile employers are getting creative by opting for "unusual" job pools — aka, reaching outside of recruiting at colleges or other academic institutions. Many current incarcerates are already doing valuable work in agriculture or mechanics, while others are learning a trade or attending community colleges.
Many people are released from prison with little or no money, no job prospects and debts. Jobs could lower the often high rates of recidivism that keep prison populations up, while allowing ex-incarcerates to fulfill employers' hiring needs.