Pathways for Prison Leavers

Creating better employment pathways into employment for prison leavers

Inclusive Employment
Pathways for Prison Leavers


Over half of employers struggle to fill vacancies due to skills shortages, according to The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Thinking outside the box about recruitment and exploring new talent pools can help overcome such challenges.

The Challenge

Only 28% of prison leavers manage to get a job within a year of release meaning that re-establishing life with secure, fairly paid employment and reducing the risk of re-offending is a challenge.  Whilst this is an increase from 14% in 2022, there are still a lot of job-ready candidates, with a vast array of skills and experience for you to consider being a part of your team.

With low unemployment rates in Oxfordshire employers face barriers to filling vacancies by creating a recruitment pipeline through

Recruitment practices can exclude prison leavers from employment opportunities.

To be fairer, businesses can review their recruitment policies and practices, which will open up opportunities for prison leavers


Prisoners gain a wide breadth of skills and qualifications from training opportunities and workshops in prison.

Working with prisoners and prison leavers has a whole range of benefits, including:

Reducing staff absence

The biggest concern of employers around hiring prison leavers is a worry that they may not be honest and trustworthy. However, over half of employers of prison leavers would positively rate their attendance at work, being motivated and reliable.

Increasing staff retention

81% of businesses that employ prison leavers say they have helped their business. Evidence from employers such as Marks & Spencer shows that the higher value placed on having a job, with the desire to stay out of prison, often means prison leavers have higher levels of loyalty and retention, which keeps institutional knowledge within your business.

Reducing recruitment costs

The CIPD has calculated that filling the average non-managerial vacancy costs around £2,000. Work inclusion initiatives, such as opening recruitment up to prison leavers, can help reduce those overheads, saving organisations substantial sums.

Resolving skills shortages

Over half of organisations in England and Wales, say they have struggled to fill a position due to skills shortages in the past year. Working with prisons to offer employment opportunities makes good business sense, as well as helping prisoners and prison leavers get their lives back on track.

Making a difference

Over two fifths of employers say hiring prison leavers has helped their company become socially responsible. Actively hiring former prisoners is proven to reduce reoffending. Most prison leavers want the opportunity to turn their backs on crime and having a job helps them get their lives back on track.

New Futures Network (NFN)

The New Futures Network is a specialist part of HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) which attracts and supports employers to work with prisons in England and Wales. It acts as an employment broker and provides support during and after the recruitment process for all of your organisation.

There are a range of new initiatives in ninety-two prisons across the country:

• Employment Hubs: The dedicated space in each prison, where prisoners can go to access support – whether that is careers advice, CV work, support with a job search, or making applications for employment post-release.

• Prison Employment Leads: A new dedicated staff member who is a single point of contact for employers.

• ID and Banking Administrators: A new role responsible for making sure prisoners have the documentation needed to take up employment on release.

• Employment Advisory Boards: The brainchild of James Timpson – one Board in each prison chaired by a business leader. Members advise, support and challenge prisons on their employment offer.

• Prisoners gain a wide breadth of skills and qualifications from training opportunities and workshops in prison.

How can businesses get involved

Employment on release

Upon release, individuals can work and have full employee rights. The New Futures Network can help businesses arrange interviews with prospective candidates before they are released.

Employing Serving Prisoners

Employers can set up training and production facilities within prisons, getting a dedicated space and workforce form within the prison estate.

Release on temporary licence (ROTL)

Release on temporary licence, or ROTL, is an initiative which allows prisoners, towards the end of their sentence, to work or volunteer while on day release from prison.  It allows you to offer work experience to a serving prisoner while you assess if they are right for your business.

Find out more

Related Resources

Aspire: Prison leaver support

Aspire Oxfordshire provides specialist support to people who are in custody or have recently left prison to find employment, training, work experience, or education.


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