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Work or Recidivate: NIC’s Offender Workforce Development Resources Can Help
NIC News & Updates



Facilitating the development of employment skills with justice-involved individuals can make a difference. Several jurisdictions report favorable impact on recidivism for those who participate in job-readiness/employment skills services. The NIC Community Services Division can help develop skills through training opportunities for correctional staff tasked with offender workforce development, and the NIC information Center can provide supportive resources.


What the Research Says

The Executive Summary: Research Supporting Employment as an Important Component of Evidence-Based Practice by the U.S. Probation Office, Eastern District of Missouri, January 20, 2009 reviews the strong link between employment and recidivism. "Extensive research has demonstrated that strong ties to work can lead to desistance of offending. Based on the scientific evidence, education and vocational training programs work. They increase the rate of employment for ex-offenders, and meaningful work is an important contributor to less offending. More importantly, the evidence clearly shows that they reduce recidivism and provide a positive return on investment."

What NIC Can Do to Help: Preparing Staff to Deliver Employment Services

The NIC Community Services Division offers employment training opportunities for staff at no cost to the requesting agencies.

The Employer-Driven Employment Model for Justice-Involved Individuals

The Employer-Driven Employment Model for Justice-Involved Individuals illustrates four key processes (or sets of steps) that lead to job placement. Using labor market information, you can target justice-involved individuals for high-growth occupations and prepare them for employment in these fields by focusing on employers' expectations for skilled, productive, and dependable employees with soft skills and industry-standard training and certifications. This is what is called the "employer-driven approach." For additional information please see NIC’s The Employer-Driven Employment Model for Justice-Involved Individuals or contact Francina Carter, NIC Correctional Program Specialist.

Listen to this informative podcast, Improving Offender Employment Through Employer-Focused Programming, from the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA). Aired on March 11, 2015, this radio program focuses on the Employer-Driven Employment Model, "a new framework developed by the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) for improving the employment outcomes of job seekers with criminal histories. In this program, we uncover the four parts of the model and examine how saavy correctional organizations might engage with employers by following a comprehensive program of public relations, marketing, and coummunity outreach."

Offender Employment Retention Specialist (OERS) Training:

This training addresses a key component in offender employment, job retention, by teaching how to apply evidence-based practices in corrections including Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment principles to support self-change and also the use of an employment retention inventory (ERI) to identify an offender’s challenges around a potential for job-loss. See NIC’s Offender Employment Retention Initiative webpage for training opportunities as well as other resources, or contact P. Elizabeth Taylor, NIC Correctional Program Specialist.

“Offender job retention really speaks to risk reduction and public safety,” says Ms. Taylor. “Correctional agencies have generally done well at job placement; job retention is the key to having impact.  Collaboration and communication, as well as applying motivational interviewing skills and implementing cognitive-behavioral strategies, enhance success at building employment skills in offenders. Motivational interviewing provides a strength-based approach to support offenders exploration of the feelings and behaviors that impact their ability to maintain long-term attachments to the workforce.” 

Other Supportive Resources Available

The following resources for offender workforce development staff are available through the NIC Information Center:

Finding Work: A Smartphone Study of Job Searching, Social Contracts, and Wellbeing after Prison 2014

Integrated Reentry and Employment Strategies: Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Job Readiness (PDF) 2013

The State of the Re-Entry Service Community in Little Rock: White Paper of Analysis and Recommendations (PDF) (Evidence-Based Practice/EBP) 2013

Career Resource Centers: An Emerging Startegy for Improving Offender Employment Outcomes (DVD) 2010


For the most current offender workforce development information and resources, always check NIC’s Transition and Offender Workforce Development resource page.

Posted Mon, Aug 20 2012 12:16 PM by Anonymous


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This blog is funded by a contract from the National Institute of Corrections, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view or opinions stated in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.