Criminal Justice

The Manufacturing Institute helps employers grow second chance opportunities

April 22, 2021

There are an estimated 7.4 million unfilled jobs across the country, including more than half a million in the manufacturing sector. From Arizona to Illinois to North Carolina, manufacturers have a difficult time finding applicants. A new partnership between the Manufacturing Institute (MI) and Charles Koch Institute (CKI) will empower those in need of a second chance by helping employers in the industry connect with this untapped talent pool.

One-in-three Americans currently possess a criminal record. They face not only social stigma, but also significant legal barriers that impact their ability to secure employment, start a business, and find a suitable place to live.

With a $600,000 grant, MI will provide resources and expertise on second chance hiring as a key solution to address the skills gap in manufacturing. It will develop and offer roundtable discussions and webinars, C-suite leadership events, case studies, pilot programs, and original research tailored for the manufacturing industry.

“One of the biggest barriers to successful reentry for those with a record is lack of employment opportunities,” said CKI Executive Director Derek Johnson. “If we truly want to reduce recidivism and increase public safety, all while empowering those returning to our communities to contribute at their fullest potential, we need to expand second chance hiring opportunities.”

A February 2021 MI survey revealed manufacturers believe their struggle to identify talent will persist. More than 77 percent of small- and medium-sized firms expect to have talent needs in 2021 and beyond. By expanding second chance opportunities in an industry critical to America’s economy, not only will individuals and their families benefit, but businesses will be stronger and our communities safer.

“Second chance hiring gives businesses an opportunity to welcome highly motivated, engaged, productive and loyal new team members that they may otherwise miss out on,” said MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “This is not only the right thing to do for our businesses, but it’s the right thing to strengthen our communities. This partnership enables the MI to educate manufacturers in America on second chance hiring best practices and help them utilize second chance hiring as a strategy to fill open jobs.”

Read MI’s press release and learn more about its work in second chance hiring.

The Charles Koch Institute inspires and invests in social entrepreneurs developing solutions to America’s most pressing problems. Read more about our support for social entrepreneurs committed to criminal justice reform.