(CNSNews.com) - President Donald Trump set what he called an “ambitious goal” on Thursday to cut the unemployment rate for former inmates to single digits.
“The unemployment rate for former inmates is up to five times higher than the national average. My administration has set an ambitious goal: We want to cut the unemployment rate for these individuals to single digits within five years, and we think there's a really good chance of doing it,” he said during a White House event on second chance hiring.
“Too often, former inmates are not considered for jobs even if they're qualified, rehabilitated, and ready to work, and that's why we're taking crucial steps to encourage business to expand second chance hiring practices,” the president said.
“So when we say ‘hire American,’ we mean all Americans, and that’s what's happening. First time, probably, ever. And I think I can say, truly -- and a lot of the folks in the room are experts and you've been doing this for a long time -- but I think it's probably the first time we can truly say that in the history of our country that that's happening. So it's really been fantastic,” he said.
In furtherance of this goal, Johnny Taylor, president of the Society for Human Resource Management, which represents 300,000 human resources people worldwide and whose companies employ 115 million people everyday, launched a website called “Getting Talent Back to Work.”
He announced that they got 1,500 U.S. employers “to immediately sign to join the movement, because we needed employers to commit.”
“What we know is that once people ... get out of incarceration, too often they return because they can't find a job. These aren’t bad people. They're people who are trying to survive, and we can play a role in that if we can help remove some of the barriers -- those barriers that lead to high levels of recidivism. Again, no one wants to go back,” Taylor said.
“And so what we needed to do is figure out how we could play a role -- the country's human resource professionals -- to remove the barrier of employment, and so we're bringing back people back into the workplace,” he said.
“It wasn’t enough to get people out of incarceration; we needed to get them employed. In a very short period of time, after announcing it with Charles Koch, Richard Branson, myself, we had people just signing up,” Taylor said.
“And so now, all of a sudden, Mr. President, your goal of getting that five times the number down to single digits -- we're going to do it,” and the Society for Human Resource Management’s 300,000 members are committed,” he said. “We're going to play our role. We're going to be warriors to get these warriors back to work.”