Indianapolis, Ind. – Indiana Department of Correction and Hoosier Initiative for Re-Entry (HIRE) are proud to announce the completion of the 2019’s final Virtual Job Fair for approximately 150 offenders who are soon-to-be released in Southern Indiana. The mission of the Virtual Job Fair is to assist offenders in securing meaningful employment opportunities before being released back to their communities.
Six Southern Indiana employers participated in the Virtual Job Fair, including representatives from Berry Global, JEG Wood Products, and Revere Plastics System. The webinar provided employers the opportunity to discuss their hiring needs to a room full of returning citizens. HIRE coordinators will assist connecting qualified candidates with interested employers to secure employment prior to their release from an IDOC facility.
“Over 90% of the 27,000 offenders in the Indiana Department of Correction will return to our communities,” said HIRE Director Carrie Heck. “Those who don’t have meaningful employment released are up to 78% more likely to re-offend; this is why it’s so important to connect offenders with employers prior to release.”
Approximately 150 offenders participated in this latest Virtual Job Fair. The offenders represented 14 facilities state-wide and tuned into a moderated webinar from their current IDOC facility. During the presentations a facility moderator shared questions from offenders with participating employers. All participants are within 90 days of their scheduled release date, with priority given to those offenders who have been certified in high demand fields inclusive of welding, building trades and computer coding.
Virtual Job Fair participants at Heritage Trail Correctional Facility
Virtual Job Fair participants at Edinburgh Correctional Facility
In 2012, the state of Indiana created the Hoosier Initiative for Re-Entry (HIRE) program under the umbrella of the Department of Workforce Development. In 2019, as part of Governor Eric J. Holcomb’s Next Level Agenda, the program and mission moved to the Indiana Department of Correction. HIRE’s mission is to help returning citizens reintegrate into society by providing workforce readiness training and partnering with Indiana businesses to create a pipeline of skilled workers.
HIRE utilizes several avenues to establish employment opportunities prior to release. One of the most innovative is the Virtual Job Fair. The webinar provides employers the opportunity to discuss their hiring needs with individuals who will be returning to the community. HIRE coordinators then connect qualified individuals with employers. The goal is to decrease the time frame between release and employment, to increase the chance of success.
The Virtual Job Fair was awarded the National Association of State Workforce Agencies’ William J. Harris Equal Opportunity Award in 2018.