COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- As businesses wrestle with an ongoing labor shortage, many are broadening their hiring criteria, giving second chances to those with criminal records.
“The unprecedented shortage in our labor market has increased opportunities for justice-involved individuals to receive what we refer to as up-skilling or re-skilling," said Candice Sporhase-White, an employee at the Second Chance Center. "And position them to launch careers in mid-skill level jobs and create a pathway to what we refer to as mortgage-paying careers.”
Sporhase-White says that getting a job has always been a crucial step for the formerly incarcerated.
“A job, and more importantly, a job with opportunities to grow and wage progression, restore self-dignity," said Sporhase-White. “It gives people a meaning, a reason to not offend. It means public and community safety. “
And ex-offenders are seeing exactly that, as the labor shortage has increased the levels of jobs the formerly incarcerated can obtain. Because of this development, the Second Chance Center is altering its communication with fair chance employers.
“This is no longer a pull on your heartstrings conversation with our fair chance hiring network of employers," Sporhase-White said. "It's a dollar and cents conversation because employers can no longer ignore this untapped labor market.”
Sporhase-White said the individuals working with the Second Chance Center are eager to work and are deserving of equitable pay in their new roles.
“We have retention rates at 86% with folks that we place with our fair chance hiring employer network," Sporhase-White said, "which is higher than industry standards across the board.”
According to the Colorado Secretary of State's quarterly economic report, the state's labor force participation rate sits at 68.9%. Though the rate displays a significant comeback since the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still many employment opportunities available to former inmates.
Below is a look at the Work Force Center locations in the Pikes Peak area.