It’s easy to take employment for granted. We establish a routine, learn new things, gain skills, make friends, earn money and progress through life. While this is a journey familiar to so many, for others this can seem out of reach.
A job has great value. It provides a sense of belonging and helps us feel like we’re contributing something positive to society. A route to employment isn’t easy for everyone to find and businesses can be a powerful force in helping to remove barriers and give more people the opportunity to achieve their full potential.
It’s also the responsibility of employers to ensure that those furthest away from the job market are not overlooked when they come to recruit. One area of society that can be particularly hidden is the prison community, a huge untapped pool of talent that can have a positive impact on industries like ours.
Around 20% of the construction industry – 580,000 people – are due to retire by 2021. For developers to meet the growing demand for buildings, this is a vital opportunity to train more people in the skills our industry relies on. Training offenders for the working world provides prospects for life beyond prison.
The value a job would bring to an ex-offender’s life is priceless, but it also adds physical and fiscal value to society. At Landsec, we partner with Bounce Back, a UK charity supporting ex-offenders into work. We help run scaffolding, dry lining and window cleaning academies at prisons across the UK. For those who have taken part, re-offending rates have been reduced to 12%, compared with the national average of 50%. This saves important resources in prisons and helps keep people and communities safer.
Young people are particularly vulnerable to the pressures of modern society, and businesses can be an important influence during education to encourage students to think positively about their futures. It’s incredible to think that 65% of children entering primary school now will end up working in totally new job types that don’t yet exist. Our industry is changing as we become less reliant upon traditional construction methods, and more digital and professional roles are needed.
Training offenders for the working world provides prospects for life beyond prison
To keep up with the pace of change, we need to start diversifying the talent that enters our industry as early as possible. That’s why our Build Your Future education programme, coaches young women to think about careers in property and construction.
Measuring the value of employment is crucial to the success of programmes that support people into work. It provides insight to engage more effectively with local authorities to achieve outcomes that truly respond to local needs. Since 2011, we’ve supported more than 1,300 people into work and last year, we created £3.2m of social value through our community programmes.
We recognise that the private and public sectors can’t reach every individual in a meaningful way, which is why partnerships with charities and community organisations are so important – this collaboration will help us achieve our new target to create £25m of social value by 2025.
We want students to know a career is accessible – regardless of where they were born or where they live. Young people who may have followed a wrong path have the right to be given the opportunity to turn their lives around. They can add great value to the UK’s workforce and, most importantly, feel the great sense of fulfilment that getting up and going out to work brings.
Colette O’Shea is managing director, London and retail portfolios, at Landsec