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Getting Back to Work: Helping reduce re-offending through employment

Evidence shows ex-offenders can provide real value to employers.

Andrew Pratt of New Zealand recruitment agency, Action Personnel explains how businesses and the community can reap the rewards of hiring people with a history of offending.

Recruiters or hiring managers grappling with the dearth of job applicants all too often ignore entire segments of the population as pools of potential applicants. Among them are people convicted of crimes who are returning to society following time in prison.

However, there is evidence ex-offenders can provide real value to employers and be accepted by the other employees they work with.

One recruitment agency that is helping put an end to the stigma holding back inclusive hiring is Action Personnel.

The New Zealand recruitment agency, a member of the RCSA, has been a premier provider of

recruitment services for more than 30 years with offices in Palmerston North and Christchurch.

Action Personnel managing director Andrew Pratt is passionate about assisting people with a history

of offending into employment.

“A criminal record should never be viewed as an automatic disqualification for employment,” he


Action Personnel have spent the past two years working with the New Zealand Department of Corrections collaboratively matching available roles with Corrections’ clients seeking to re-join the workforce.

Principal Adviser Employment Development at the Department of Corrections, Rhys Jones, said the

partnership developed as a result of one his team members going to work for Action Personnel.

“We both realised the value of working together to secure employment for people in our care. Action Personnel is one of our leading partners and since July last year they have placed more than 35 people from Corrections into work,” he said.

Last year Rhys presented Andrew and the Action Personnel team with a Whanonga Pono Award.

The awards recognise those who champion Correction’s Ara Poutama Aotearoa values.

“Action Personnel received the Manaaki Award – ‘We Care for and Respect Everyone’. We felt this award reflects the way Action Personnel work with Corrections, and the genuine care they show for the people they place into work,” Rhys said.

“The support of Action Personnel is essential because it gives people in our care the opportunity to work – often for the first time in their lives – to provide for their whānau (extended family), to create a different future, and lead a crime-free life.”

Andrew said he and his team were “over the moon” to receive the award. “It was completely unexpected. To be recognised by another organisation for the work we are doing is very humbling,” he said.

Continuing their work with the Department of Corrections is something Andrew and his team is extremely passionate about.

“People in work are much less likely to reoffend and we are honoured to be doing a little something to help reduce reoffending in our community,” he said.

“However, we could not do this without the willingness of some of our clients to give these people a

chance at meaningful employment.”

One of Action Personnel’s successful and grateful recruits from Corrections is Byron*.

Byron last held a job in roofing and labouring about two-and-a-half years ago and after leaving prison last year he was keen to get his life back on track.

Now, Byron, 32, is working as a traffic controller.

“I started as a temp and have built up to full-time hours and been made permanent,” he said.

Andrew’s hope is more employers hire Corrections’ clients like Byron. “If individuals with a criminal record can be considered for employment based on their talent and skills, the benefits for the business and society are far-reaching,” he said.

*Surname withheld for privacy reasons.

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