Working Chance: Helping ex-offenders start over

Ex-offenders often find it difficult to get work when they leave prison, a situation which exacerbates their social isolation and increases their chances of turning back to crime. A project from the Czech Republic tackled these issues by using employment agency techniques specifically to help this marginalised group get good jobs and make a fresh start.

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Practical interviews brought together candidates and companies in a ‘speed dating’ format. © Rubikon Centrum Practical interviews brought together candidates and companies in a ‘speed dating’ format. © Rubikon Centrum

" In prison, time stops…If you do not get the second chance to be useful and successful back in normal life, you give up. It was clear to me from the very beginning that only through organisations such as Rubikon can you get back into normal life and feel good. "

Daniel Svoboda, a former inmate who met his employer through the project

Working Chance brought ex-offenders and employers closer together in order break down prejudices and demonstrate what those leaving prison could bring to the labour market. Employers, NGOs and state administrations were involved in delivering actions designed to increase the social integration of ex-offenders.

Opening doors to a better future

Efforts to reduce labour market barriers and find jobs for ex-offenders were conducted through a non-commercial employment agency called Rubikon. Individual and group counselling sessions were used to explore each person’s situation, their criminal record, competences and ambitions.

The programme proved to be very effective as 58 % of attendees went on to secure work, with about 80 % staying in post after their trial periods.

Building bridges

Practical Interview Days (PID) offered participants job interviews with a range of companies in a ‘Speed Dating’ format. Each interview lasted about 15 minutes, with the ex-offenders usually completing five to six interviews per session. For the candidates, the format helped develop self-confidence and encouraged them to open up about their past. The first PID sessions generated real results with 41 out of 52 candidates securing job offers after taking part.

In 2014 alone, the project cooperated with 140 employers and supported 700 ex-offenders. Moreover, after securing extra funding from the business sector, the agency will continue its activities into 2016. Companies seem particularly keen to develop the PID format and have even offered to pay the costs associated with running the events.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Working Chance” is EUR 67 170, of which the EU’s European Social Fund is contributing EUR 63 812 from the Operational Programme “Human Resources and Employment” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

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