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Dominic Raab Tells Businesses To Hire Ex-Offenders To Tackle Staff Shortages

3 min read

Businesses should “come and talk” to the justice department about hiring former prisoners to fill the current shortage of workers, Dominic Raab has said.

In his first speech as the new justice secretary Raab told the Conservative Party conference he was tripling the Clink scheme, where a restaurant is set up in jail to train inmates with skills for when they are released.

Speaking in Manchester on Tuesday he said more must be done if we are to be a “second chance society” and support people who have been to prison to turn their lives around.

“You may remember the Clink scheme, a restaurant set up at HMP High Down in 2009, training offenders in their kitchens to give them the skills to get a job when they are released”, Raab said.

“The Clink now operates in eight prisons, and the prisoners who take part are a third less likely to re-offend, because if you give someone a job, if you give them something to lose they’re much less likely to return to crime.

“This year, I’m trebling the Clink scheme, and extending it to another 17 prisons.”

The Cabinet minister added: “And I say to any employer with skills shortages, come and talk to us.

“Because we need more employers willing, under the right conditions and with the right kind of vetting for those involved, to work with us to train and take on ex-offenders.

“To help businesses plug staff shortages, and to help us reduce re-offending.”

It comes amid continued supply chain issues in various sectors caused by staff shortages blamed on both Covid and Brexit, with petrol still unavailable in many areas, while a lack of abattoir butchers could lead to a mass cull of pigs on farms.

The government launched a scheme last week to get 5,000 foreign HGV drivers to come and work in Britain to ease the fuel crisis and help get food back on supermarket shelves.

This morning Boris Johnson admitted only 127 of the 300 visas for tanker operators to arrive immediately had been granted, but he said this shows the issues “is the global shortage” in the haulage industry.

The Prime Minister this morning denied that there was any crisis. "I think that on the contrary, what you're seeing with the UK economy and indeed the global economy, is very largely in the supply chains the stresses and strains that you'd expect from a giant waking up, and that's what's happening," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

He said the country was facing an "extremely interesting moment" and the shortages of labour were a "sign of economic robustness”.

But Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds accused Johnson of being "so out of touch that he can't see a crisis when it's staring him in the face".

She added: "Try telling the teacher who couldn't get into school because she couldn't find petrol that there's no crisis."

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