A new strategy for increasing the employment options for people with criminal records has recommended the establishment of a network of business mentors to support former offenders who wish to become self-employed.
It also says that 10% of all procurement contracts in the criminal justice sector should be awarded to enterprises where ex-offenders are employed.
The strategy, called 'Working to Change', has been published by the Department of Justice.
It states that ex-offenders who are in work are less likely to reoffend and that having a criminal record poses many challenges to securing a job, regardless of how long it has been since the last conviction.
It says the impacts of Covid-19 will only exacerbate this.
Latest figures from the CSO show around one in two people released from prison commits another offence within three years of being released, with younger prisoners more likely to reoffend than older inmates.
In total, the strategy makes 46 recommendations aimed at increasing the job opportunities for those with a criminal past. It says the public service sector should explore how it can provide meaningful employment opportunities for people with convictions who are suitably qualified.
It also recommends the possible introduction of a scheme to secure public liability insurance for people with criminal records who are setting up their own business.