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Best Practice - Blue Sky Development & Regeneration
Blue Sky was founded in 2006 by Mick May, with the sole aim of creating jobs for people coming out of jail. Since then it has employed over 1000 ex-offenders and the re-offending rate of Blue Sky employees is just 15%. Mick May has set up Blue Sky with Steve Finn, who was a former bank robber, and now a senior manager at Blue Sky. With Steve as his first recruit, Mick set off on a journey that has seen Blue Sky grow to create jobs for ex-offenders in both public and private sectors, including companies such as Amey, Veolia, Virgin Active, River Island and Deloitte.
Ex-offenders can make great employees, since they have overcome formidable obstacles to secure a job and a second chance. They have a determination to build a new life and this is a great asset to a business and in return for employment, they invariably show great loyalty.
Blue Sky has over a decade of experience of recruiting and managing ex-offenders and the results speak for themselves. They have employed over 1500 ex-offenders with over 40% securing onward employment after leaving Blue Sky.
Blue Sky directly employs ex-offenders for six months on full-time temporary contracts. For some of their commercial clients concerned about reputational or operational risk, this can provide a lower-risk option.
Blue Sky has a range of established referral routes from statutory agencies, Job Centre Plus, other charities as well as recruiting ex-offenders directly. Blue Sky brings a wealth of experience of working within the prison estate and in the community. This means they can provide an informed window on the sector for the businesses. Blue Sky is experienced in screening and interviewing potential candidates. When any company takes on a new employee it cannot be certain what it is getting. Blue Sky takes away most of that uncertainty.
With over half of Blue Sky’s HQ team with experience of the criminal justice system, they can bring implicit and explicit experience and insight to the screening and recruitment.
In achieving this aim Blue Sky had to face many challenges:
- Understanding how recruiting ex-offenders could benefit the business
- Navigation of the criminal justice system, regulation and terminology
- Identifying potential trust partners
- Understanding the potential support and management needs
- Identifying and mitigation of risk to sell the idea internally
- Investment in specialist resource and building appropriate processes
- Investment in ongoing specialist support to ensure ongoing success
- Only 15% of Blue Sky ex-employees have re-offended – a quarter of the national average
- 48% of the employees move into sustained employment once they leave Blue Sky – despite ex-offenders finding it eight times harder to secure a job compared to people with no criminal record
- 51% of the employees leave with accredited qualifications
- 60% of employees with a housing issue has left with an improved accommodation situation
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