Tasked with the goal of recruiting 10% of their new hires from marginalised backgrounds, specifically ex-offenders, NEETs and long term unemployed, Veolia launched an Inclusion Strategy in 2018 with the aim of increasing workforce diversity.
Working alongside training and employability providers Skillcert and PeoplePlus, Comensura was delighted to partner and support Veolia with the “Through the Gate” programme which involved the rewarding task of supporting offenders on their journey from prison through to the workplace. Whilst Veolia could offer job vacancies, it was Comensura’s experience of managing the recruitment process that could really add value. We identified potential job opportunities, held 1-2-1 interview sessions with current prisoners, and provided CV coaching.
As the programme picked up steam, we decided that rather than simply telling the prisoners there are employers out there who would be happy to consider them for vacancies, it would be better to show them! So, the next step was working with HMP Drake Hall, PeoplePlus and Skillcert to deliver a ‘Careers Conferences in Custody Event’ in which we invited companies into the prison to come and speak to the prisoners directly.
The event was a hive of activity with many displaying a strong desire to work, as they boldly networked their way around the room asking questions and taking notes. Many talked proudly to employers about their jobs within the prison and referenced achieving promotions to supervisor status during their time at HMP Drake Hall.
"I am very pleased to report that the event was a success! The employers all found the experience rewarding and many have subsequently sought opportunities to do further work with the prison to create new jobs for ex-offenders. The ladies were so appreciative of the help and left the event feeling informed and energised about the future which was lovely to see."
— Georgina Gold, Business Partner, Comensura
The “Through the Gate” programme continues to be a key focus area for both Veolia and Comensura and we will be keeping momentum and holding further events (post-lockdown) in 2021. So far, we have successfully secured meaningful long-term employment at Veolia for five ex-offenders and we have many more candidates in the pipeline, so watch this space.