Annie Gale Cook with John

Source: Cook

Head of RAW Annie Gale with John, who was recruited through the programme

Frozen ready meal retailer Cook is revamping its ex-offender recruitment programme in a bid to improve retention rates.

Cook introduced its Ready and Working scheme in 2014 and has so far hired 78 employees who have come out of prison or are dealing with addiction, homelessness or mental health issues.

Currently Cook has 21 members of staff who went through the programme and around half of those to enrol stay with the business for more than six months. Cook said it wants to take this figure up to a year through its new Get Ready scheme.

Get Ready will launch in January and feature a two-week training programme for eight individuals run three times a year, with the intention of hiring 11 employees.

Cook said it will provide practical, on-the-job training and individual coaching and support.

There will be a focus on supporting prospective candidates getting ready to work, alongside the art of finding a job so those unsuccessful in securing work with Cook can use the skills they acquire from the programme to seek employment elsewhere.

The two weeks will be segmented into training and practical tips in soft skills including confidence, resilience, clear communication and working as a team, with trial shifts in the afternoons.

“The RAW Talent programme has become a fundamental part of who we are at Cook,” said company co-founder Edward Perry. “It has a disproportionately good effect on the business. Not only does it do a huge amount of good for those who come through the programme but also, and even more powerfully, it benefits everyone else who works in the business. It makes us more aware of human frailties and how fragile life is. I’m so grateful for the RAW Talent programme, it has made all of us at Cook better people.”