More than 900 ex-prisoners find work

  • 01/03/2018
hand in jail
Photo credit: iStock

A $2.5 million Corrections pilot programme has led to more than 900 people with criminal convictions finding work and re-settling back into the community.

The Corrections employment recruitment programme, which started in late 2016, has helped 904 participants find work - 343 former prisoners, 548 offenders serving sentences in the community and 13 offenders returned from overseas.

Stephen Cunningham, Corrections' director offender employment and reintegration, is proud of the offender recruitment team that has placed an average of 60 people a month into jobs.

"These are incredibly passionate people who go above and beyond to seek out employers, encourage them to take on offenders, and assist those offenders into jobs," he said.

About 70 percent of placements remain in their jobs after three months.

The biggest area for placements has been in the South Island, with 329 jobs sourced.

The pilot includes a fund to help employees overcome some of those barriers to employment. So far 156 applications for funding, totalling around $119,000, have been granted for tools and equipment, work clothing and training.

"We are only just over halfway through this pilot, but early indications are that keeping and maintaining stable employment is reducing reoffending for offenders who have been assisted," Mr Cunningham said.

Waste Management became Corrections' 100th employer partner last month. Its director Tom Nickels says the company wanted to play its part in giving people a fresh start in life.

"We are seeing motivated candidates coming through the programme and becoming part of our team," he said.

Ben Po Ching of B&H Builders describes the process as "just another avenue where we can tap into another pool of resource of people who had skills already".

"As long as they can swing the hammer or carry out a task that's given to them, I don't really care what they've done in the past," he said.

"Some of the guys, they need to be given another chance."