Can Ex-Cons Ease the Labor Shortage?

For some Silicon Valley companies such as Google, which operate in a region where finding an affordable place to live has become a major issue, that may mean getting directly involved in employee housing. For farms in California, it may mean offering significantly higher wages, which can alter business models and reduce profit margins. In rapidly growing industries such as solar, some companies are taking a more proactive role in training employees. And, in some instances, it may mean looking to hire some of the 600,000 people who get out of jail each year. That was the point of a fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal this week. “Erickson Cos., a Chandler, Ariz.,–based construction firm, has hired almost 30 former inmates from Arizona state prisons over the past year to build frames for new homes, an effort to cope with skilled-labor scarcity,” the Journal noted. “Erickson, which has about 250 employees in Arizona and roughly 1,000 nationwide, has been recruiting directly from corrections department job fairs for prisoners nearing release.”

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