Giving Ex-Offenders an Opportunity

by Bob Hughes on July 21, 2016

Bob Hughes · Creativity in Business Opportunities · July 21, 2016

Pendulum in Action, giving hope, opportunities for employmentDoing time in prison shouldn’t mean you have no future. Isn’t prison supposed to be punishment enough? Richard Branson thinks so. The innovative entrepreneur, after visiting a high-security prison in Australia a few years ago, said that prison populations contain, “a large number of potential superstars who get ignored by employers because of their criminal record. It makes sense for UK companies to recruit these individuals and to make use of their skills and enthusiasm.”

He was quoted in an article in the Guardian about a new program in which Virgin – the company that Branson heads – actively seeks to employ capable ex-offenders. According to the article, Virgin Trains West Coast’s employment program for ex-offenders has trained and placed 25 candidates in full-time jobs with the company.

More ex-offenders than that might actually be employed with the company, since virgin doesn’t screen job applicants for criminal records. The plan is to for Virgin Trains to have about 10% of its workforce made up of ex-offenders.

“Candidates are selected by their ability, skills and creativity, and apprentices serve an average of 18 months,” the article says.

The article also quotes the recruitment executive for Virgin Trains, Katheryn Wildman: “It’s all about giving hope. They have done their time, paid their penalty. Now we have to give them a chance. You can’t put a price on hope.”

She’s right. Everyone deserves a second chance. Or a third. Or as many chances as needed to straighten a life out and move ahead.

Branson has encouraged other Virgin companies to employ ex-offenders, to help further diversify the workforce, and to give opportunities to people who’ve paid their dues and want to contribute to society in a meaningful way. Virgin has even created a portal on its company website to help companies go about hiring ex-offenders, and to guide interested parties in seeking employment with Virgin.

It’s in everyone’s interest to provide opportunities for employment, and to allow them to move past their previous errors. It’s a WE Cycle thing to do.

[rps]

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