Only around a quarter of UK prisoners enter employment after release. The figure is even lower in the US. How, then, can the barriers to employment thrown up by having a criminal conviction be broken down? We explore in the final episode of this series of the Breaking Barriers podcast.
Gabriel - not his real name - has served a prison sentence for a crime he committed. Now he’s out, he’s working hard to achieve his career goals and become an architect. However like many other ex-offenders he’s discovered that having a criminal conviction is a huge barrier to entering the workplace. Often, the very first question Gabriel has to answer in the recruitment process is "do you have a criminal record?". Answering "yes" can be one step too far for many employers.
In this episode, Gabriel talks to the celebrated British architect, and the first chair of the Society of Black Architects, Elsie Owusu. In this lively exchange, the pair debate whether employment is even necessary for Gabriel in the first instance - should he go it alone?; the travails of being judged for the worst mistake one has made in life; the allure of crime and how to avoid the cycle of criminality; and the merits of hiring a diverse workforce.
Throughout this series, presented by Yassmin Abdel-Magied, you’ll hear six inspiring, intimate and frank conversations between those who hold power in sought-after industries and the people struggling to find their way due to a variety of barriers that life throws up.