Finding a job can be challenging in any economy; finding a job after incarceration is often impossible. Concordance Academy of Leadership, whose integrated, holistic model delivers services to individuals who are re-entering the community after incarceration, wants to make that first job after prison more accessible. Concordance is launching an innovative employment agency aimed at connecting St. Louis area employers with individuals ready for a new start.
Nationwide, nearly 80% of formerly incarcerated individuals return to prison within five years. One of the largest challenges these individuals face is finding stable employment.
If they cannot find a job, many return to the very thing that got them into prison, whether it is drugs or crime,” said Dr. Roderick Nunn, Executive Vice President, Head of Education & Employment at Concordance. “When the business community asks, ‘What can we do to help reduce crime in St. Louis?’, this is exactly what they can do –utilize the Concordance Employment Agency and support its success.”
Local research suggests that while there is an aversion to hiring the formerly incarcerated, resistance is declining. The 2015 State of St. Louis Workforce research showed that over one quarter (26%) of area employers indicated that they would not consider a former felon for any reason while 13% indicated that that they would consider the applicant for positions if they met the qualifications. The remaining respondents (61%) indicated that hiring considerations are dependent the nature of the felony, time since the offense or the type of job being sought.
National research indicated that individuals with felony records are no more likely to be terminated for poor work performance or misconduct, and are actually more likely to be promoted. The Concordance Employment Agency is confident that a) its employees will corroborate this research and b) the St. Louis region will flourish only when it harnesses the massive, untapped talent pool its workers represent.
The Agency will match qualified program participants (those who have completed the pre-release and intensive post-release program at Concordance) with area employers. To help make these matches more cost-effective and successful, and reduce employer barriers, the Concordance Employment Agency will also:
• Recruit, screen and onboard workers with essential workplace skills
• Reduce employee recruitment and screening costs
• Absorb the risks associated with providing workers compensation, general liability and fidelity bonds
• Provide professional job coaching to help ensure that employee is performing job tasks according to employer’s specifications
• Provide training to supervisors to help them better understand the barriers faced the formerly incarcerated
• Conduct pre-employment and ongoing drug testing
St. Louis-based pizza chain Pi Pizzeria was one of the first local companies to hire Concordance participants for employment.
We’ve now hired four Concordance participants at three different locations, and we couldn’t be happier with them,” said Chris Sommers, Pi Pizzeria Co-Owner, Restaurateur and Tech Entrepreneur. “Our first Concordance hire was promoted within two months of joining Pi because of his tenacious work ethic. He’s on his way to becoming a supervisor. Our second hire was also promoted, and the two most recent ones are off to a flying start. We’re honored to be part of the effort to rebuild this region from the ground up: one person, one family, and one neighborhood at a time.”
The Concordance Employment Agency will kickoff its efforts with a November 9 Employer Symposium at the St. Louis Regional Chamber – “Finding Talent in a Challenging Economy.” The Chamber will host the event at One Metropolitan Square Suite 1300 from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. featuring nationally recognized management expert David Ulrich as the keynote speaker.
At the November 9 Employer Symposium event at the Chamber, attendees will get the chance to learn more about the Employment Agency’s services as well as hear from a panel of St. Louis Human Resources executives including leaders from Ameren, Nestle Purina, St. Louis Staffing, SAK Construction and Pi Pizzeria. The event will also feature keynote speaker David Ulrich. Ranked as a #1 top management expert by Business Week and a top 5 coach in Forbes, Ulrich will describe cutting-edge practices in sourcing talent, and the value in employing non-traditional talent in today’s economy.
To register for the November 9 event, “Finding Talent in a Challenging Economy” please visit stlregionalchamber.org/events. For more information on the Concordance Employment Agency, please visit concordanceacademy.org/employersymposium or contact Dr. Roderick Nunn at email@example.com or 314-396-6001.
ABOUT CONCORDANCE ACADEMY
Concordance Academy is a St. Louis-based nonprofit that offers the country’s first set of integrated, holistic and evidence-driven services to individuals returning to society from prison. Led by President and CEO Danny Ludeman, the organization assists participants in three primary areas: behavioral health and wellness; education and employment; and community and life skills. The Academy starts working with individuals six months prior to release and continues assisting for up to a year after their return to the community. The organization is committed to restoring individuals, rebuilding families, transforming communities and advancing the field of re-entry services. For more info, visit www.concordanceacademy.org.