Many employers in the UK right now are struggling to recruit the talent they need to operate their business at full capacity.  Attitudes towards hiring ex-offenders to help fill these gaps are really starting to improve – although many business owners and hiring managers still harbour concerns. This page is the right place for you if:

  • You have questions or concerns about recruiting someone with a criminal record and need to understand more to decide if this could be the right decision for your business
  • You are prepared to recruit one or more ex-offenders and would like to receive free support to help you gain direct access to a pool of skilled, available talent 

At Sodexo, we have been running prisons in the UK for 30 years and are committed to rehabilitating offenders, treating those in our care with dignity and providing opportunities for purposeful activity. Our employment, education and rehabilitation services give them the skills, qualifications and support to lead law-abiding lives in their community on release.

Employers guide to recruiting ex-offenders

People with criminal convictions can make a valuable contribution to many businesses, but misconceptions mean they are often not considered for roles.

With more than one million vacancies across the country, it’s important that employers consider all avenues available to them when recruiting to fill vacancies, including exploring employing people with criminal convictions.

Download the employer toolkit
Education, learning and skills in UK prisons
These skills packs detail some of the training and qualifications prisoners can benefit from

Rehabilitation to recruitment

One year on: How Starting Fresh is supporting employers and changing lives

Starting Fresh is Sodexo’s initiative to support employers in proactively recruiting trained and qualified ex-offenders. Commitment from organisations and colleagues is plugging skills gaps and keeping lives on track.

Read Starting Fresh one year on
Sodexo Live! apprentices

Resettling prisoners after release: getting ex-offenders into the workforce

Sodexo's Tony Simpson, Justice Operations Director, addresses how upskilling, retraining, and boosting confidence; activity across our prisons is supporting prisoners into positive futures helping them to find a new direction in life.

Read the article

Unlocking construction opportunities to reduce re-offending

‘Unlocking Construction’ is an initiative developed by the New Futures Network – part of HM Prisons and Probation Service. Prisoners at HMP Forest Bank and HMP Peterborough had the chance to discuss career opportunities with companies who operate in their release areas.

Read the article

Frequently asked questions

Our frequently asked questions (FAQs) have been compiled based on conversations with thousands of prospective employers and hiring managers in the early stages of considering recruiting an ex-offender.

Read the FAQs

Make an enquiry

You can contact us, or one of our partners, to help you get started – whether you want to visit a prison to see the skills training in action, organise an employer day to recruit a number of people, or even just ask a question not addressed in our FAQ. We would be delighted to hear from you.  

Make an enquiry

Apprenticeship levy funding

This year we will gift £100,000 of our apprenticeship levy fund to SMEs and not for profits prepared to recruit ex-offenders into apprenticeship roles.

Request funding



of British business leaders say they anticipate hiring ex-offenders in the year ahead (Censuswide 2023)