The Department of Justice has launched a new strategy aimed at providing more job opportunities for people with previous convictions.
Working to Change – social enterprise and employment strategy 2021- 2023 sets out how the Government plans to improve employment options by working to remove the systemic barriers facing those with convictions.
The document is a collaboration between the Irish Prison Service, The Probation Service and the Department of Justice.
The strategy aims to create a “flexible, responsive” system which brings together a number of existing measures in the area, including programmes provided through Government agencies to support training, employment and entrepreneurship.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee (pictured) said we needed a system that would allow “real reintegration” into society once a sentence had been served.
“People should not believe that their future opportunities are all but closed off because they have committed a crime in their past,” she said.
The head of the Probation Service, Mark Wilson, said the measures would help to reduce crime, reduce the number of victims of crime and increase community safety.
€1.5 million from dormant accounts
To fund the strategy, €1.5 million is being made available from the Dormant Accounts Fund. €1 million will go towards social enterprises to encourage employment of skilled people with convictions.
€250,000 will be provided to help set up a Scholarship and Internship Fund to allow people with past convictions to reach the minimum qualification levels to apply for positions in the civil or public services. €250,000 will be used for measures to encourage entrepreneurship.
The Department of Justice is also pledging that 10% of all of its public contracts will include some form of social benefit clause by the end of the strategy.