Finding Work with a Criminal Record | Nacro
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Finding work with a criminal record

If you are on Universal Credit and searching for work, you may be able to get help from a Work Coach in your local Job Centre Plus.

They’ll work with you to identify your skills and discuss the support and courses available to help you find your way into work.

Work and benefits

If you receive benefits or are on Universal Credit, it’s important to remember that your payments could be affected by work. You must speak to your Work Coach or Universal Credit advisor if you take on paid work.

As you earn more, your Universal Credit payments will get less. If you claim other benefits, these may not be affected. But each person’s circumstances are different, so it’s important to talk to your support worker or Universal Credit advisor to understand your income and entitlements each month.

Criminal records and work

If you have a criminal record, finding work can be challenging. But don’t be put off in your search.

There are lots of companies in the UK who are proactively supporting people who have recently left prison, or who have criminal records, to get back into work.

Nacro is also here to help you. Read all about what you need to do when looking for work on our advice pages.

You can also call our Criminal Record Support Service helpline on 0300 123 1999.

Access to training

There are a wide range of study options available if you’re looking to boost your skills and employability. Many are free, but some more advanced or specialist courses may need funding.

Entry requirements for different courses can be confusing. Here’s a quick rundown of the key terms you need to know:

  • Entry Level: If you have no formal qualifications, such as GCSEs or vocational qualifications, you are at an entry level education point. This could mean you can get more help and training.
  • Level 2: This is a qualification level. If you have GCSEs or equivalent such as a vocational Level 2 course, such as construction, you have Level 2 qualifications.
  • Level 3: This level of qualifications is more advanced than Level 2. If you have A-Levels, Higher BTec diplomas or similar, you will have a Level 3 qualification.

Narcro Education offers vocational courses for 16-19-year-olds, alternatively, you can explore the training options available to you below:

If you earn below £18,525 or are currently unemployed, you are eligible to take part in a training programme for specific jobs run by the Government. You cannot participate if you already have a Level 3 qualification.

The courses are free. You may also be able to get additional financial support to pay for childcare, travel and other costs.

There are loads of options in different areas including: digital, early years, construction, green jobs, and accounting.

Find out more about free courses for jobs.

There are a range of essential skills courses you can take.

If you don’t have English and Maths GCSE at Grade 4 (equivalent of a high C), you are eligible to take essential skills courses in English and Numeracy. There are options to start at Entry Level up to Level 2.

You can also study English as a second language (ESOL), if English is not your first language.

If you would like to improve your digital skills there are free courses available to get your skills up to scratch for the workplace.

Visit the Skills for Life website and looks for essential skills courses.

If you are over 19, and currently unemployed, you may be eligible to take part in a 16-week skills bootcamp. These courses give you the skills you need to do jobs that are available in your local area.

You will also be guaranteed a job interview at the end of the course.

For most Skills Bootcamps, no previous knowledge in the subject is needed – you just need a good grasp of the English language and the willingness to learn new skills.

Talk to your Work Coach or visit the Skills Bootcamps website to see what courses are available in your area.


"Getting back into work felt like something I wouldn't ever be able to do. But Nacro supported me in the transition, I started as a volunteer, helping out a couple of days a week. Now I work for Nacro full time, supporting women in the same way they supported me. It gives me a purpose and has given me so much confidence in other areas of my life."
Mary, former Nacro service user and now employee
Picture of service user Richard with big ben in the background

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We're always looking for service users to help us shape Nacro services and campaigns. There are loads of ways to get involved.

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