On Monday the 16th May, Nacro was invited to present at the Department for Work and Pension’s ‘See Potential’ event in Cardiff at the Wales Millennium Centre. Hosted by Liz Maher, President of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce, the audience of over 90 businesses and stakeholders heard from the Minister for Employment, Priti Patel, about how organisations like Nacro are helping individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds into employment.
At the high-profile event, Nacro’s legal officer, Dominic Headley, delivered a speech followed by a breakout session demonstrating how businesses are able to navigate the legislation around employing ex-offenders and that it is actually in their commercial interest to do so. By developing practices and policies in regards to people with criminal records, businesses can confidently access the vast potential talent of ex-offenders in order to address their chronic skills shortages.
The session also covered the Resettlement Advice Service’s ground-breaking Aeneid Project as well as the expert advice, support and training that Nacro provides to organisations so that they can confidently recruit safely and fairly. Anthony Rees, Partner at one of the UK’s leading law firms, Eversheds, also presented; he spoke about the highly-regarded legal briefings that Eversheds delivers in partnership with Nacro , and both organisations’ involvement as Ban the Box employers.
Dominic spoke alongside other prominent speakers such as Jonathan Crookall from Halfordsand Ben Marson, Head of Corporate Partnerships for the Prince’s Trust. Other organisations present included leading national employers such as Sony, Dept for Transport, SMEs as well as voluntary organisations such as Barnardo’s and the Clink Charity.
Priti Patel spoke of the importance of giving people second chances and cited the record-high level of unfilled vacancies of 760,000, according to the Department of Work and Pensions’ statistics, and emphasised the crucial role that employers had to play in this agenda of increasing life chances for disadvantaged groups.
According to research, 75% of employers stated they would take on care leavers but only 14% actually did so. In practice, only 6% and 8% would take on former substance misusers and ex-offenders, respectively. The Minister spoke of the importance of giving people not just the opportunity of work but also to have dignity in their work. Our society cannot be cohesive if people are locked out of it, was Ms Patel’s bottom line.
Dominic’s speech was well-received both at the event and on social media, with praise across the board for his illuminating input as well as the strong technical understanding that he provided to businesses and other organisations including government. The importance of Nacro’s presence and its profile in this area was underscored by the Coates Review (published on Wednesday 18th May) of education in prison, which specifically mentioned the Aeneid project.