Why NZ CIOs are giving ex-prisoners a second chance
An innovative programme training prisoners to become web developers is helping them get a foot in the door at some of New Zealand’s biggest IT companies. Charity Take2 was established three years ago with the aim of breaking the cycle of crime by providing pathways to employment in tech.
Founder and CEO Cameron Smith tells CIO New Zealand it was during his time working in recruitment he became aware of how difficult it was for people with convictions to even apply for a role.
“People have made a mistake, they’ve served their time in our justice system but we as a society are stepping in and effectively handing them a life sentence no matter what their crime was.”
When Smith moved into a role working for a venture capital fund, he was exposed to the growth of tech companies and the shortage of tech talent and it sparked the idea for training prisoners in much-needed skill sets.
“The tech industry just seemed like a no-brainer and something that I really wanted to do given my life experience, my values and where I could see making the most impact so that’s what led up to Take2,” Smith says.
Over 12 months he worked with the prison service, the IT industry and funders to get his vision off the ground and went to examine other similar programmes in action in the US and the UK.