Study confirms finding work for ex-cons no easy task - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Study confirms finding work for ex-cons no easy task

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Persons released from prison face tremendous barriers to employment, according to results of a recent survey by economic development policy students at the University of Iowa.  The percentage of Eastern Iowa businesses that automatically disqualify persons with a history of criminal conviction ranges from 25 percent for a record of operating a vehicle while intoxicated to 80 percent for a violent crime, the students found.

"Many more companies will hire a person released from prison 10 years ago than the number willing to hire a person released within the last year.  Unfortunately, the recidivism rate to prison is very high, especially within the first three years.  This means that the job of the newly released ex-offender is to be focused on gaining some type of employment.  It is difficult but not impossible," said Brenda Dodge, Operations Director of the Iowa City Workforce Center - IowaWorks.

The Iowa City IowaWorks Center mailed invitations to participate in the students' online survey to 5 percent of the business establishments randomly selected from the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City area.  Seventy area employers completed the survey.  In addition to asking about the attitudes and barriers toward hiring ex-offenders, the 32 question survey asked participants whether interventions can increase their willingness to hire a person with a record of felony conviction.

47 companies indicated they would value references from a job club when making hiring decisions.  Two employers indicated that those references would significantly increase their willingness.

Job clubs provide unemployed persons a network that is increasingly necessary to gain advantage in competitive labor markets and they have long been used by highly skilled job seekers with great success.  The Hubbub Job Club meets 5-6 p.m. each Thursday evening at the prison in Coralville and the founders are planning a second meeting location for the job club outside the prison's walls to benefit job seekers of every type throughout the community.

The University of Iowa, IowaWorks and the prison system will continue to find ways to partner to help skill, educate and employ persons with criminal records that present barriers to employment. 

 

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