Weston College has become the first college to sign up to the national Ban the Box campaign.
Candidates with a criminal record can now apply for jobs at the College with the knowledge that they will be assessed on their ability to do the job before any convictions are fairly considered.
However, the same rules surrounding who can legally do certain jobs will still apply, and DBS checks will still take place before any member of staff is appointed. Anyone teaching learners or working alongside College staff will have been through the same rigorous legal checks as usual.
Applicants will however, be asked to declare any such record at the point of job offering, and will undergo DBS/legal checks as all with all other applicants. Only once they are successful in passing those will they be able to accept a position.
The campaign is spearheaded by Business in the Community, and currently more than 90 UK-wide employers are signed up, with the College being the latest. Other organisations include Boots, Barclays, Bristol City Council and Virgin Trains.
The initiative will mean that the College no longer asks about criminal convictions on job application forms, instead committing to considering an applicant’s skills, experience and ability first and foremost.
Having a job can reduce a person’s chance of reoffending by up to 50%, and by signing up to Ban the Box Weston College is creating a fair chance for ex-offenders to compete for jobs and helping to keep the community safer.
Grace Mehanna, Business in the Community’s campaign director for employment and skills, said: “Two thirds of employers admit to discriminating against people with criminal records, but the employers we work with recognise the skills and loyalty this diverse group of people can bring to their roles. Removing the barrier of a tick box can make all the difference to someone deciding to apply to your company.”
The Ofsted “Outstanding” organisation has confirmed that “Weston College is committed to recruiting an inclusive workforce, reducing barriers to employment and offering opportunities to applicants with the talent, motivation and potential to succeed. The College is already proud to be changing lives by the delivery of high quality Offender Learning and we are delighted to have signed up to this new policy. We know from experience how important it is for people with a criminal record to know that they have a fair chance of gaining legitimate employment to support them and their families and contribute positively to society. As an employer, we pride ourselves on equal opportunities for everyone and this is another step we have taken to show people that it is their skills and ability to do the job that matters.”
For more information about the work the College undertakes with ex-offenders visit www.offenderlearning.co.uk or to find out about current job vacancies across the Weston College Group, visit www.weston.ac.uk/jobs
If you’d like to know more about the ‘Ban the Box’ initiative visit http://www.bitc.org.uk/banthebox