/John Howard Society introduces new employment tool

John Howard Society introduces new employment tool

By Chad Ingram

The John Howard Society has created a new online tool that helps those with a police record navigate the search for employment and the interview
Even in the best of economic times, the search for a job can be challenging for those with criminal records. Jacqueline Tasca, director of partnerships and strategic initiatives for the John Howard Society of Ontario, points out that the COVID-19 pandemic has made that search for work even more competitive, and that broaching the subject of a criminal record with potential employers can be a very intimidating experience for those seeking work.
“Our tool is there to really help people anticipate the questions they might get asked,” Tasca says. “The job-seeking situation is often a time fraught with anxiety, stress and shame.”  The online tool, which is essentially an e-learning course, allows job-seekers to understand the advantages and disadvantages of disclosing a criminal record; legal rights regarding criminal background checks; and tips and techniques for how to effectively disclose a criminal record.
Tasca says that recent research has shown that more and more Canadian employers are asking for criminal record checks as part of the hiring process, with as many as half now requesting the documents, for positions ranging from entry-level to high-ranking.  “This is becoming an increasingly common HR practice,” she says.  “Having a criminal record is actually very common,” Tasca continues, adding that according to surveys undertaken by the John Howard Society, one in 17 Canadians has some form of criminal record.
Robert Gaudette, manager of skills development for the John Howard Society Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton, says that a criminal record is often part of a set of complex barriers to employment for  people, and the new online tool can be helpful in overcoming the social stigma and self-stigma often accompanied by having a criminal record, leaving job-seekers feeling a lot more confident about their prospects, and themselves.  “We are well-versed and can make referrals to other agencies in the community,” Gaudette says, some of those agencies including Victoria County Career Services in Lindsay and the Fleming CREW Employment Centre in Haliburton.
The John Howard Society offers a number of free training programs, covering everything from literacy to numeracy to coding and computer skills to resume-writing, and Gaudette points out the programming is available to the community at large, not just those with criminal records.
The society’s new online tool can be found at https://policerecordhub.ca/