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Will Brexit and Covid improve employment opportunities for people with a criminal record?

If you’ve been watching the news recently you can’t have failed to notice the number of stories talking about the staff shortages across certain sectors.

Although the latest employment figures show that one in 20 people who are looking for work can’t find a job, the number of job vacancies being advertised have hit their highest since the start of the pandemic. In particular, the hospitality industry is struggling to find staff.

This sector has always had a high turnover of staff and even before the pandemic there was a shortage of chefs. For anybody working in hospitality, lockdown and the slow re-opening of bars and restaurants meant that they had to find other kinds of work and having done so many are now reluctant to return to the culture of long, unsociable hours often at minimum wage.

In the early days of the pandemic, supermarkets and other essential stores were able to recruit those who had previously been employed by restaurants and bars but there is now much more competition for these people and it’s likely that the retail sector will be the next to face labour shortages.

Many of these shortages would traditionally have been filled by non-UK workers but approximately 1.3 million foreign nationals have left the country in the last year. Restrictions on travel due to Covid are part of the problem but so too is Brexit and the hostile approach to immigration by the Government.

So what does this mean for people with a criminal record who are finding it difficult to get into employment?

The Institute of Employment Studies say:

“When businesses say ‘We can’t get the staff’, they mean, ‘We can’t get experienced staff'”

However, there are approximately 1.7 million people seeking work who could potentially take up these jobs. This means that the only option to employers will be to consider staff who are less experienced and training them or offer positions to those with experience who may have other factors which have made them unsuitable in the past, for example having an unspent conviction.

The lack of experienced staff means that more than ever, those who may have been refused jobs in the past could stand a much higher chance of landing a position and rapidly climbing the career ladder.

Not only is it possible that more opportunities will become available but the shortage of workers is likely to drive up wages as well as improve working conditions.

In terms of the hospitality sector, don’t assume that the only jobs available will be working in a kitchen or behind a bar, there are many more opportunities available; what about utilising your skills in marketing or management?

For many years Adnams Brewery and Roast Restaurants have been signed up to the Ban the Box campaign and removed the question about criminal records from their application forms. But there are plenty more companies that also have a very positive attitude towards those with a criminal record including Honest Burgers and Greene King.

Tips for getting a job in hospitality?

  • Walk in off the street – This is not an unusual way of getting a job in a restaurant or bar. Some advertise jobs in their window or on boards outside.
  • Show passion and enthusiasm – Bar tending and waitressing are skills that can be taught but passion and enthusiasm can’t.
  • Identify your transferrable skills – Being organised, adaptable and able to work as a team as well as any type of customer service skills will transfer well into the hospitality industry.
  • Use social media – Update your social media profiles and covering letter and regularly search platforms like Twitter and Facebook for job opportunities.
  • Network – It’s sometimes easier to get a job through word of mouth so make sure your friends, family and other contacts know that you’re looking for work.
  • Highlight previous experience – If you’ve worked in the industry (however long ago) tell the employer. Any experience will still prove valuable.

There are some amazing opportunities available and business owners will often consider attitude to work as important as experience. Demonstrating that you have good communication skills and can be flexible might be a good start in landing yourself a new job.

So what are you waiting for? This could be just the start of a whole new career.

By Adam

Useful links

  • Comment – Let us know your thoughts on this post by commenting below.
  • Information – We have some practical self-help information on  Information on disclosing criminal records to employers.
  • Discuss – There are some interesting discussions on this issue on our online forum.

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