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News 6 August 2019

Employers identify gaps in recruiting ex-offenders and people in recovery

By Asi Panditharatna
Employers share their insights into the challenges and opportunities in recruiting ex-offenders and people in recovery.

Employers from across sectors have highlighted a range of challenges and opportunities in helping ex-offenders and people in recovery from addiction into jobs and apprenticeships in a new event white paper.

Professionals involved in recruiting and supporting these groups into employment, along with those not in employment, education or training (NEET), came together to explore the issue at a roundtable event organised by The Forward Trust and Brent Council to celebrate Employability Day.

Representatives from organisations including consulting and infrastructure support services business Amey, housing association Network Housing and charity CareTrade Charitable Trust, and Umbrella Training, an apprenticeship training provider, were all in attendance. Participants also heard from some innovative initiatives that are seeing success in helping serving and former prisoners: Redemption Roasters, the UK’s first prison-based coffee roaster, and Cook, a leading catering company and food retailer whose RAW Talent programme provides work and training opportunities in their business, at full pay.

Insights from the event, including presentations given by Jonny Pilkington of Redemption Roasters, Cook RAW Talent’s Annie Gale and Asi Panditharatna, Forward’s Director of Employment Services, have been captured in the ‘Closing the employment gaps’ white paper.

Get your copy of Closing the Employment Gaps

“There are encouraging signs that the job and apprenticeships market is becoming more open to ex-offenders, people in recovery and other disadvantaged groups. Our event participants made it clear that more engagement with employers is needed to encourage them to see the wider business and societal benefits of providing proper career pathways to people from these backgrounds”.

Asi Panditharatna, Forward’s Director of Employment Services

The event – which launched Bright Futures, a new specialist employment programme provided by The Forward Trust in partnership with the London Borough of Brent – was celebrated at time of continued growth for Forward’s employment services. The team has been strengthened by the recent arrivals of: Stephen Anderson as Enterprise Coach who is also leading the Forward Enterprise Fund; Dan Cook as Head of Key Accounts; Mani Kadungala, Operational Manager leading our new Prison Education IAG contracts; and Daryl Pride as Commercial and Enterprise Manager for our social enterprise Blue Sky Services.

To find out more about Forward’s employment programmes, contact

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