Support from the Randal Charitable Foundation has helped enable a major report which is calling for 50,000 prison leavers to plug the current labour shortage.
The new report by thinktank The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) highlights that Britain would save billions of pounds of taxpayer money and plug many of its more than one million job vacancies if it doubled down on efforts to get prisoners into work when they leave jail.
The Leicestershire-based Foundation collaborated with the CSJ to bring forward the report, which highlights that, of the nearly 50,000 people leaving prisons in the UK each year, only three in ten have a job six months later.
Those who struggle to find work are at serious risk of reoffending, which perpetuates the cycle of crime that blights so many families and communities.
Dr (Prof) Nik Kotecha OBE DL, Founder of the Randal Charitable Foundation, said: “I’m immensely proud that our partnership with the CSJ has led to this ground-breaking report, which is now being considered by the Justice Minister.
“If enacted, it will go further and faster towards addressing the staggering £18 billion annual cost of reoffending, as research shows that being in employment is proven to help break the cycle of crime.
“Plugging labour shortages will also provide enormous benefits to the economy, as the Chancellor labelled employee shortages as a major threat to economic growth in his most recent Budget.
The government will now consider recommendations including releasing more prisoners on licence to take up jobs and greater access to vocational qualifications, according to The Times newspaper.
Prisons Minister Damian Hinds wrote in a foreword for the thinktank's report: “There are over a million vacancies in the UK. So, there has never been a better opportunity for businesses to unlock the potential in our prisons.
“Getting more prisoners into work really is a win-win — it will cut crime by reducing reoffending and grow our economy to the benefit of us all.”
As well as wider releases for employment purposes, the report goes on to call for better education in the UK's prison system, more digital technology, a wider range of vocational qualifications and earlier access to student loans.
Policy Director of the CSJ, Joe Shalam, added: “If implemented, our recommendations would represent a major step forward. Because while the need to restore control and order in our prisons remains an urgent priority, the power of these measures is that they are focused on restoring something altogether more profound. Hope.”