Corrections Minister Louise Upston is hosting an event in Hamilton tomorrow aimed at getting more employers onboard to give jobs to skilled, motivated and work-ready offenders.
The event, the first of a series to be held around the country in coming months, will give some of New Zealand’s biggest employers the chance to hear about the work Corrections is doing to provide offenders with education, training and job skills.
Corrections signed up its 100th employer to offer prisoners jobs earlier this month but more are needed to provide men and women steady work and a regular income when they leave prison.
“Too many prisoners are unemployed when they enter prison. Some have never had a job. Yet we know that people who find stable employment on leaving prison are less likely to end up back in the justice system. Having a job is crucial to reducing reoffending,” Ms Upston says.
“The benefits of linking employers with offenders are many – we have a skills shortage that many of these men and women can fill and we will reduce our reoffending rates and prison muster if they don’t return to prison.”
Corrections helps offenders to find employment through a range of education programmes, skills and work training and employment opportunities to make them more employable on their release.
“We want to ensure the people who come under Corrections management and care leave with more skills than when they arrived,” Ms Upston says.
Corrections employs full-time education tutors who support 4769 prisoners and deliver education and employment training programmes including horticulture, manufacturing, construction, painting and hospitality.
Last year, around 9000 offenders were involved in employment-related activities and 4628 achieved qualifications, a 25 per cent increase on 2015.
Corrections also has initiatives aimed at supporting employers to take on offenders. The Employment Support Service provides job placement and up to six months in-work support to help former prisoners get and keep their jobs. Offender recruitment consultants work with offenders and employers around the country.
“Corrections does the work to find the right person for the job, and employers gain a skilled employee,” Ms Upston says.
“Employers can help make a positive difference by giving someone a job – a difference to the lives of offenders, their whanau, and their communities.”