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9th March 2023

Sodexo launches Starting Fresh campaign to help hospitality businesses hire ex-offenders

Written by: Edward Waddell
Global services company Sodexo has announced the launch of Starting Fresh, which aims to encourage businesses to proactively hire ex-offenders.

New research has revealed that recruitment challenges are encouraging employers to consider ex-offenders.

Around 65% of hospitality businesses polled said they were struggling to fill job vacancies, with 51% reporting in excess of ten open roles that need filling in their organisation. Just 18% say they do not believe they currently employ any ex-offenders

Hospitality appears to be the sector most open to hiring those with a criminal record with 76% keen to consider ex-offenders, however almost half of those report that while they’re interested, they don’t know where to look.

Kate Nicholls chief executive of UKHospitality said: “Most hospitality businesses cannot currently operate at full capacity due to ongoing labour shortages. Collectively, the industry is turning away £25 billion of potential revenue a year, with huge consequences for the Treasury. As such, hospitality employers cannot afford to turn their back on any talent pipeline that could provide vital resource.

“The issue is that employers don’t know how to access at scale the volume of recruits – prison leavers and other ex-offenders - potentially available to them. It’s great, therefore, to see Sodexo launch Starting Fresh which will really help demystify the process.”

Sodexo is keen to ensure employers understand the training facilities and qualifications available in some of its prisons. In HMP Peterborough, for example, prisoners are able to train in an Ofsted-checked environment for their City & Guilds Level 1 and Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Food Production & Catering, which is externally assessed.

Sodexo is committed to filling 5% of appropriate job opportunities with ex-offenders. During 2021 and 2022, the business had 162 DBS applications return as positive, 133 (82%) of these went on to gain employment.

Tony Simpson, justice operations director at Sodexo UK & Ireland, added: “Starting Fresh is not just about helping employers understand the valued contribution ex-offenders can make to their business, but to also encourage them to proactively engage with our prisons and our partners to start the hiring process with prison-leavers.

“It’s positive to see the majority of businesses suggesting that they will employ from this largely untapped talent pool in 2023. We have more to do, and we want to start new conversations about how we share our experience and learn from others as part of this campaign.”

Statistically, ex-offenders who get a job are less likely to re-offend, while 81% of consumers believe businesses employing ex-offenders are making a positive contribution to society.