Raab: Ex-cons will be trained to pull pints to help hospitality 'thrive' this Christmas

22 October 2021, 15:10 | Updated: 22 October 2021, 15:51

There is a shortage of hospitality staff, so Dominic Raab is drafting in ex-convicts to help ease the pressure.
There is a shortage of hospitality staff, so Dominic Raab is drafting in ex-convicts to help ease the pressure. Picture: Downing Street Flickr/Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Ex-offenders will be trained to help run pubs, cafes and restaurants following concerns of labour shortages in the run-up to Christmas, Dominic Raab has announced.

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The new scheme will take place across several prisons, encouraging "vetted and appropriate ex-offenders" to play their part.

It comes in an attempt to help the hospitality sector bounce back, after having been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, with previous staff forced to adapt and change careers.

The Justice Secretary announced on Thursday that both ex-convicts and existing inmates would be called in to help with the HGV driver shortage too.

He told LBC that he wanted to draft them in to support the economy instead of relying on the "old addiction" of foreign labour.

Read more: Raab: Bring in prisoners to solve HGV driver shortage, not 'cheap' foreign workers

Read more: Ex-offender: Raab 'absolutely right' on using prisoners to plug labour shortages

“It’s a rewarding career for someone in need of a second chance and a way businesses can help us cut re-offending," Mr Raab told the Evening Standard.

"I’m determined to use more prisoners to keep London’s hospitality industry thriving whilst ensuring its streets are safer than ever before."

He added: "Business owners have told me ex-offenders are among the most reliable and motivated workers in their team – they have a desire to prove themselves trustworthy and they have something to lose."

HMP Wandsworth is one of 10 prisons in England and Wales on a recruitment drive to fill gaps across different sectors while also enabling inmates to learn new skills.

As part of the scheme, hospitality leaders will visit the prisons urging offenders to apply ahead of the Christmas period.