Unlocking Nebraska’s workforce potential: Hiring individuals with records

Nebraska, like many states across the nation, faces a challenge in its labor market. While unemployment remains low, there is a dearth of workers. Governor Jim Pillen’s appointment of a task force to address this issue is a commendable step forward. However, there’s one solution that deserves strong consideration: hiring individuals affected by the criminal legal system. This untapped demographic could be the key to solving Nebraska’s labor shortage, and here’s why.

In the wake of the Great Resignation in 2021, approximately 47.8 million American workers left their jobs, due to either the pandemic or to career changes, according to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). Many months later, companies are still struggling to fill vacant positions, resorting to hefty bonuses and other incentives. Yet, amidst this labor market turmoil, there remains a largely untapped source of talent: individuals with justice-involved backgrounds, those who have a record.

It’s no secret that people with records often face enormous barriers to employment. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, only a mere 5% of managers and 3% of HR professionals actively recruit candidates with criminal records for open roles. Given the current labor shortage, this underutilized workforce could offer a lifeline to employers grappling with staffing issues.

Brian Matthews, Senior Vice President at Appriss Insights, underscores that this is the perfect time to embrace this workforce. Not only does hiring individuals with criminal records expand the talent pool, but it also provides a second chance to those who need it. This movement is an excellent opportunity to strengthen businesses and foster inclusiveness in the workplace.

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