Ex-offenders are being overlooked by employers despite having the correct skill sets for vacant jobs, Chic frontman Nile Rodgers has said.
The singer added that employment would give people coming out of prison an identity and sense of purpose as he launched a new campaign from social justice charity, Key4Life.
The organisation works with 18 to 25-year-old prisoners and ex-offenders to provide programmes that encourage young men to change their ways.
Rodgers, who has employed ex-offenders, said at the launch of the Younited campaign: “It’s amazing to me that people don’t quite understand that if people don’t have second chances, what are they going to do?
“If you give someone opportunity you are at the same time taking away their incentive to offend. It’s a powerful solution.
“You gotta give people a second chance. People who want it, work even harder.
“From where I’m coming from, thinking of the people I’ve hired in the past, it’s an absolute honour to hand the Younited flag to the next generation.
“I can prove from the track-record of the people that I’ve had working for me that they’ve been successful, sometimes more so than me, and they’ve been dedicated.
“The one thing that I’ve seen is that people who grow up in very difficult environments are great thinkers, they really are great thinkers.
“If you put that brain to work in the proper setting, you’d be surprised by the results.”
Good Morning Britain presenter Alex Beresford, who hosted the gala, added: “I don’t believe prison works in all cases, I’ve met young men from where I grew up as a kid that go in-and-out, in-and-out, in-and-out and it doesn’t act as a deterrent.
“So, to have something like Key4Life, that can actually go into prisons and work with the boys so that when they leave prison, they have something to look forward to and goals to reach is a win-win.
“Cause at the end of the day, yes, we want them to serve their time, but we also want them to learn their lesson and realise there is another way and Key4Life is providing that opportunity. ”
Justice Secretary David Gauke has also backed the campaign saying: “I’m a firm believer in the power of work to change people’s lives.
“Work can provide dignity and purpose as well as the money to pay bills and support family life.
“Many employers already recognise that they can benefit from the skills and work ethic of people leaving prison.
“Through the Younited campaign, I am sure those businesses will be joined by many more.”