Ex-offenders “neglected” in the workplace due to lack of digital skills, warns Digital Poverty Alliance

With current reoffending rates on the rise, prison leavers are facing neglect when seeking to reintegrate into society due to insufficient digital skills, according to the Digital Poverty Alliance (DPA).

Government statistics reveal that the criminal reoffending rate is currently at 26 per cent, and has increased since 2021. The DPA believes that schemes like Tech4PrisonLeavers would largely decrease reoffending rates by providing ex-offenders with essential skills to make them an asset to society and employers.

The DPA highlights a pressing need for all bodies to provide support and training to help ex-offenders secure employment, with digital skills proving to be a critical factor in this struggle, whilst also calling on government to ensure that prisons provide suitable access to digital skills and modern technology prior to release.

Elizabeth Anderson, CEO, Digital Poverty Alliance said: “The Tech4PrisonLeavers initiative represents a transformative step towards breaking the cycle of reoffending by directly addressing the digital disconnect experienced by many prison leavers.”

“By equipping them with essential digital skills, we open up a realm of employment opportunities previously out of reach, fostering not only economic independence but also boosting confidence and empowerment. Ex-offenders are often left feeling neglected in the workplace, but this holistic approach doesn’t just benefit individuals; it influences broader systemic changes, making our society more inclusive and reducing the likelihood that individuals will return to prison.”

The DPA launched the Tech4PrisonLeavers pilot project and enrolled a total of 23 men who took digital and literacy surveys and 11 of which completed psychological scale surveys. Results revealed that five prison leavers secured employment within [time period], and 35 landed mock interviews with potential employers, resulting in requests for CV submissions.

The psychological surveys evaluated the wellbeing, competence and aspirations of the candidates and the results revealed an improvement in participants well-being throughout the project. Tech4PrisonsLeavers enhanced feelings of competence regarding future employment, heightened aspirations for personal growth and improved self-assessed digital literacy.

Throughout the programme there were online virtual workshops entailing CV preparation and mini courses on digital awareness, safety and ethics available to participants who received digital badges upon completing a certain number of courses. The programme was designed to meet unique needs of prison leaders and help them be released from the digital divide.

Tech4PrisonLeavers overall outcome was considered as a notable success in several areas, as the project focused on digital literacy which is a key factor in reducing recidivism.

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