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How ‘second chance’ hires can boost the labor force, keep youth on track

January 23, 2020

A group of men learn job skills in 2019 with the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, an organization that focuses on a holistic approach for healing and reintegration after incarceration, including job training.
A group of men learn job skills in 2019 with the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, an organization that focuses on a holistic approach for healing and reintegration after incarceration, including job training. (Abel Uribe / Chicago Tribune)
 

America’s businesses are facing an unprecedented labor shortage, a drag on economic growth that risks derailing the expansion. Yet we also have a pool of millions of willing workers who are unemployed or substantially underemployed — those with a criminal record. Bringing these prospective employers and employees together in a profitable and sustainable way is an economic imperative.

Our work focuses on the models developed by pioneering business owners who opened their doors to workers in need of a second chance: those with a history of incarceration, addiction or other mistakes of the past. The most effective models incorporate processes for determining which candidates are truly ready for employment and then providing accommodations to help maintain employment. Their experience, and the handful of formal studies, all point in the same direction; “second-chance” hires are highly dedicated workers who appreciate the opportunity they’ve been given and are extraordinarily loyal to their employer. The resulting combination of low turnover and high engagement delivers cost savings and productivity improvements.

 

Click here to read Jeff Korzenik’s commentary in full for the Chicago Tribune.

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