DWD's virtual job fair for inmates receives national award

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DWD's virtual job fair for inmates receives national award

INDIANAPOLIS (March 7, 2019) — The Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has been recognized nationally for an online virtual job fair it conducted last year for incarcerated individuals.

DWD on March 6 received the prestigious William J. Harris Equal Opportunity Award at the National Association of State Workforce Agencies’ (NASWA) 2019 Winter Policy Forum in Washington, D.C.

NASWA honored DWD for partnering with the Indiana Department of Correction to host the online virtual job fair in August 2018 for 132 inmates at five correctional facilities across the state.

Plainfield, Rockville, Wabash, Westville and the Correctional Industrial Facility in Pendleton participated in the job fair, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.

Six employers from throughout the state took part, including representatives from another state agency, the Indiana Department of Transportation.

“Finding a job can present barriers for many people, so it’s hard to imagine how difficult it can be for those incarcerated,” DWD Commissioner Fred Payne said. “The virtual job fair presented a unique opportunity to help them in their search, and to assist employers in need of good workers. We are truly honored to receive such a prestigious award.”

The William J. Harris Equal Opportunity Award is bestowed upon a state demonstrating excellence and innovation in the area of equal opportunity. Mike Barnes, DWD’s chief workforce officer, accepted the honor at the NASWA awards banquet.

“Each year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, over 650,000 ex-offenders are released from prison. Roughly two-thirds of these individuals will re-offend if they do not obtain gainful employment,” said Scott B. Sanders, Executive Director of NASWA. “This virtual job fair was successful in assisting ex-offenders find a stable job to sustain themselves and their families and become life-long positive contributors to society.”

In Indiana, up to 20,000 ex-offenders are released from prison each year. Statistics show that those who remain unemployed for three years following release have a recidivism rate of up to 60 percent. The numbers go down dramatically for those who are able to secure employment and stay on the job.


DWD's Chief Workforce Officer Mike Barnes accepts the Equal Opportunity award and poses for a photo with Jon Pierpont, NASWA Board President and Executive Director of the Utah Department of Workforce Services, at the NASWA awards banquet.


About the Indiana Department of Workforce Development
DWD serves the worker and the employer to ensure workplace success. DWD is committed to innovating and invigorating Indiana’s economic future by providing WorkOne Career Centers, Unemployment Insurance, Labor Market Information, Regional Workforce Strategies and Professional Training. Through these services, DWD is able to develop a premier workforce that enables Indiana employers to flourish and entices businesses from outside our state to relocate to Indiana.

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For additional information, contact:
Scott Olson, solson@dwd.in.gov
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