One of manufacturers’ top concerns is the insufficient number of skilled workers available to fill their open jobs. Yet right before us is an often-overlooked pool of millions of potentially strong employees: people with criminal records.
That’s why The Manufacturing Institute has partnered with Stand Together and the Charles Koch Institute to promote “second chance” hiring—to get these workers who need jobs into jobs that need them. Recently, the MI hosted its first webinar on the importance of this initiative and what manufacturers should know about it.
The data: One in three Americans has a criminal record, and yet this entire population is frequently discounted outright during employer job searches due to societal stigma and general misperceptions. During the webinar, the panelists shared some additional data:
- Of the approximately 19 million Americans with felony convictions on their records, some 1 million are incarcerated and some have aged out of the workforce, said Jeff Korzenik, author of “Untapped Talent: How Second Chance Hiring Works for Your Business and the Community” and chief investment strategist for Fifth Third Bank. “But millions are of working age, [and] virtually all of them are unable to participate to the fullest extent of their possibility, of their talents, because of barriers.”
Talent shortage: 814,000 manufacturing jobs were unfilled as of May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- “Manufacturers continue to tell us that attracting and retaining workers remains one of their top challenges,” said MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee during the webinar.
- 2.1 million manufacturing jobs could go unfilled by the end of the decade if current trends continue, according to a recent MI and Deloitte study, and that “could mean the loss of up to $1 trillion in lost economic impact for the U.S.”
Worth the work: Employers who identify and support a strong candidate with a criminal record “get an employee who is on average more engaged and more loyal” than other workers, said Korzenik, who called this method of hiring the “second chance model.” This can lead to higher retention rates, saving an organization on turnover costs, he added.
- The model, which Korzenik developed, both identifies characteristics likely to lead to successful employment (strong character, soft and hard skills) and provides support processes (such as help with transportation to and from work) to help bridge gaps.
Living proof: Webinar panelist Cory Webb is a recent graduate of the Cuyahoga County, Ohio–based ACCESS to Manufacturing Careers, a program that trains both young people and people with criminal records for careers in manufacturing. He considers himself a testament to ACCESS’ success.
- “I started this program because I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to gain a career in manufacturing and machine operating,” said Webb, now an auxiliary operator for program participant Jergens Inc. The initiative “did a pretty good job as far as getting me prepared … for machine operating,” he said.
Learn more: The MI has released a host of resources for manufacturers interested in second chance hiring. You can find them here.
Manufacturing businesses have long been proponents of equality in the workplace. As legislation to codify protections for LGBT individuals passes through the House of Representatives, the National Association of Manufacturers joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, and other members of the business community in advocating its passage, forging coalitions and providing congressional testimony.
Introduced with bipartisan support in the U.S. House and Senate in March, the Equality Act includes federal protections for individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity under the existing framework of the Civil Rights Act, which already provides protection against discrimination on the basis of religion, national origin, race, color or sex. The goal of the legislation is to ensure that no person can face legal discrimination based on their gender or sexual orientation, setting a clear federal standard to enable individuals to succeed based on their abilities and qualifications to perform a job.
“Employers understand the importance of creating an environment in which the very best people can succeed based on merit,” Patrick Hedren, NAM vice president, labor, legal and regulatory policy, said. “At the same time, manufacturers know that discrimination in any form is antithetical to the values that we work to uphold every day: equality of opportunity, individual liberty, free enterprise and competitiveness.”
In March, more than 40 other industry associations rallied to support the Equality Act, providing an important boost for the groundbreaking legislation. In the weeks since, manufacturing representatives have testified before the House Education and Labor Committee and signed a coalition letter to the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services calling for the Act’s passage. As Congress considers the way forward, manufacturers have made clear that they intend to advocate forcefully on behalf of the legislation and uphold their commitment to workers of every gender identity and sexual orientation.
“The Equality Act creates a clear federal standard that matches the sentiments manufacturers already share: gender identity and sexual orientation have no impact on an employee’s abilities and discrimination is not welcome on the manufacturing floor,” Hedren said. “We look forward to working with Congress as this important legislation moves ahead.”
Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement after the Department of Labor (DOL) rescinded the 2016 Persuader Rule:
Manufacturers have fought for this victory for many years in the courts, in Congress and with two administrations, using the full weight of our policy, government relations and legal teams, said Timmons. The NAM’s Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action was able to halt the rule in court in 2016.And in 2017, the Trump administration, as part of its broader regulatory relief agenda, thankfully began the process of unwinding the rule. This overreaching rule threatened to impose serious burdens on manufacturers and upend employee–employer communications. Now manufacturers are relieved that this threat to workplace communications is finally and officially off the books. Commonsense steps like this to rein in onerous regulations are a major reason why manufacturers are reporting record-high business optimism.
The Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action (MCLA) is the leading voice of manufacturers in the courts and engages in a range of activities, including direct party litigation and operating a robust amicus program, as well as educating manufacturers about emerging legal trends. The MCLA is led by NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly and NAM Vice President of Litigation and Deputy General Counsel Peter Tolsdorf. More information on the MCLA can be found here.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12 million men and women, contributes $2.25 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic impact of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.