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John Howard Society launches online tool to better navigate job seeking

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Today, the John Howard Society of Ontario launched a new online tool to help those with a police record better navigate the job-seeking process.

The online tool shows those who have a police record how they can proactively and transparently disclose their record to a potential employer. Nearly one in 17 Canadians report having a criminal record, according to a media release.

In addition to the inclusion of the new online tool, the John Howard Society of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton has many specialized programs to address clients’ needs that can’t be met elsewhere when searching for employment services.

Many require a creative, long-term, and hands-on approach that other employment services may not be able to provide.

Some of JHSKLH programs include:  

  • Finding Employment with a Criminal Record: Only offered at a few JHS offices across the province, this program is aimed at people who believe their criminal record is the main barrier to finding employment. JHSKLH works closely with these clients to do skills assessment and helps them improve in key areas that will set them up for success in the job market.
  • Literacy and Basic Skills: This program helps adults develop their skills with the end goal of gaining employment. JHSKLH often begins working with people on these skills while they are incarcerated to help them have a head start when they are released. Skills develop includes digital technology, math and reading and soft skills like healthy living and teamwork.
  • Code Camp: Transportation can be a major barrier for people looking for training and searching for employment. Code Camp teaches web design and programming so that people can learn remotely and have greater opportunities to work remotely too. This program is unique to JHSKLH.

The Online Tool

Black, Indigenous and people of colour, especially youth, have disproportionately high rates of contact with police. This results in an overrepresentation of criminal records for people within these communities.

While this online tool is a resource for all, an important part of its aim is to help provide additional supports for racialized Ontarians seeking to find employment with the burden of a criminal record.

“Having a police record can be a significant barrier to securing employment,” said Jacqueline Tasca, Director of Partnerships & Strategic Initiatives, John Howard Society of Ontario.

“Getting a job allows people to contribute to their community and develop a positive self-identity. This empowers individuals while improving community safety, as employment has proven to reduce recidivism.”

This initiative is informed by a first-ever national survey by John Howard Society of Ontario to understand Canadians’ opinions about hiring those with a criminal record. 

One of the surest ways out of poverty and disenfranchisement is meaningful employment. This is especially true for people with criminal records. Employers in Ontario, however, are increasingly using police record checks to screen people with criminal records out of the workforce altogether.

Yet according to brand new polling research, at least eight in 10 Canadians believe that those with a record who have been convicted and served their time should have the chance to work again once they have done their time. More findings from this survey include:

  • Three-quarters of those surveyed agree that having a police record does not tell you much about what a person will do in the future or how well they will perform at a job.
  • Three-quarters of Canadians agree that both employees with a criminal record and those without can do their job equally well.
  • 82 per cent of those surveyed agree those with a record should give back to society as an employed citizen.
  • About half agree (and very few disagree) that these individuals have the determination to succeed and work with a positive attitude
  • Only 12% agree that job candidates with a record will likely cause trouble in the workplace.

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