Dominic Raab: Ex-convicts to fill staff shortages at pubs in Christmas run-up

·2-min read
 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Ex-convicts could help plug staff shortages in London’s pubs and restaurants in the run-up to Christmas, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said on Friday.

The capital’s hospitality sector is struggling with crippling staff shortages, executives say, threatening the future of one of London’s most important industries.

To help address the crisis, the Government is launching a scheme with Wandsworth Prison to help ex-offenders retrain as chefs, waiters and bar staff.

Mr Raab told the Standard: “Hospitality has been hit hard by coronavirus, with many staff changing careers and businesses now looking to fill jobs.

“That’s why HMP Wandsworth is on a recruitment drive to encourage vetted and appropriate ex-offenders into the sector to fill those gaps. It’s a rewarding career for someone in need of a second chance and a way businesses can help us cut re-offending.

“I’m determined to use more prisoners to keep London’s hospitality industry thriving whilst ensuring its streets are safer than ever before.”

The Justice Secretary, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, yesterday set out plans to boost the number of prisoners gaining skills and prison leavers in jobs in sectors from agriculture to transportation six months after release.

At the same time the Government published new polling which showed that 90 per cent of businesses which employ ex-offenders said they are reliable and good at their job.

“Giving an ex-offender a second chance can be win win for them and their employer,” Mr Raab added. “Business owners have told me ex-offenders are among the most reliable and motivated workers in their team – they have a desire to prove themselves trustworthy and they have something to lose.”

Wandsworth Prison is one of ten prisons in England and Wales with a dedicated employment advisor, whose role it is to support work ready prisoners into suitable jobs. Next month it will host a dedicated two week recruitment drive with employers such as pub chain Greene King coming into the prison to urge offenders apply for jobs in time for the festive season.

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