Getting ex-offenders into work is key to combatting labour shortage, says Tempus Novo CEO
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Freer said that providing ex-prisoners with employment could be beneficial not only for companies who are in need of staff, but could also lift people out of intergenerational poverty.
Founded eight years ago, Tempus Novo specialise in giving work to ex-offenders, and have partnered with companies such as John Lewis, Clipper Logistics and GXO.
“There's a huge labour shortage, especially at entry level,” said Mr Freer. “We’re a small organisation, but we’ve now placed over 700 people into work, and stats say at least half of those people would have been back in prison within a year.
“But it's more than altruism, the fact that companies are wanting to work with us, it's a business benefit as well”
Mr Freer went on to note why he felt employing ex-offenders could be so beneficial to businesses.
“When somebody who doesn't think they're worth anything, and they're in and out of jail, and they’ve had rejection after rejection as far as work is concerned, when someone suddenly says ‘I see something in you and I want to give you a chance’, they grab on to that and they don't want to let go.
“Our conversion rate from picking and packing jobs to promotion is around 24 per cent, that means almost one in four people who go into logistics from us have been promoted,” he said.
“Our job retention rate is also higher than the national average, with about 75 per cent keeping their job beyond six month, and the number of yearly absences are lower.”
As well as being beneficial for businesses, Mr Freer also noted how employment could be life changing for an ex-offender and their families. “There's such a huge stigma and barrier for anybody with a conviction to get a job,” he said.
“Most of these people have been let down all their lives, and I think generally speaking the public’s perception of prisoners is way off.
“Yes there's a small percentage of dangerous people, but there's also a huge percentage who come from poverty. It might be that their father has been in and out of jail, their mother might be struggling on benefits.
“I had a message on Facebook the other day from someone's son saying ‘you’ll never know what you’ve done for this family, my dad is the best dad and grandad he could be, and he could never have done this if you hadn't given him a job’.
“And this is one of the reasons we wanted to do it - because you think to yourself, ‘if i’d have had that start in life, what would I have done?’”
Mr Freer noted that although he is confident in what Tempus Novo has achieved, he is still aware that the approach may seem counter intuitive to victims.
“Ive only been challenged by victims a couple of times,” he said.
“But I’ve explained that yes they were a victim of a crime, but we don't want any more victims, so by giving this guy a job, and putting him on the straight and narrow, hopefully, we reduce the chances of this happening again.”