Businesses find results by hiring people with criminal convictions

The start of a new year often inspires new beginnings. And for some businesses searching for fresh talent, they've found it by hiring people with criminal convictions and giving them a second chance at life.

While it does come with risks, the results are promising.

Another day on the tools for Kepa Sampson at an Auckland building site. But life wasn't always so positive.

"At a young age I ended up with gangs," he said.

Jason Williams has a similar story.

"I've got plenty of convictions," he said.

But thanks to Tom Tuipulotu and his business Building Brothers they've turned their lives around.

"Even after I've finished being on bail I've got a trial to go on. More than happy to work, it's opened up a new outlook for me," Williams said.

"I wish Building Brothers had come along 20 years ago," added employee Kepa Sampson.

Tuipulotu knows it comes with risks but he believes in them.

"Everyone's talking about giving them a chance to change their life, but no one's actually going the distance to give them that chance," he said.

The Department of Corrections recognises it has a duty to help people on the inside find jobs on the outside. So it launched its own recruitment service back in 2016.

Since then it's worked with more than 2000 employers and placed over 6500 people into jobs. Its programme is called 'This way for work'.

Jakub Malinowski needed staff for his Kitchen Cabinets and Stones business so used it to take a chance on convicts.

"It's been a very rewarding journey for us and some candidates have gone well above and beyond our expectations," he said.

One of them is 35-year-old Antony De Laurier. Two years ago he was charged with theft and sentenced to community service. 

"I was looking at seven years, but because it was [my] first offence, and I basically said, 'yeah, that was me', basically fronted up, they lowered it down," he said.

Two years into the job he's now a manager.

"Just the sheer fact that I've been given responsibility among other people, I never thought I'd have that ever," he added.

Corrections take off some of the load.

"We offer 12 months pastoral care. So, if a person doesn't turn up for work, instead of you having to run around trying to find out what's going on, you give us a ring and we'll go around to the house and find out what's happening," Corrections principal adviser employment development Karl Bethell said.

But when there's risk, you can also reap rewards.

"They might turn out to be your best worker."