Employers across all sectors are being urged to recruit former criminals who have been on special training programmes while in prison.
But small business leaders warned smaller firms might struggle to offer the extra support such employees might need.
The drive also seeks to reduce re-offending levels across the region by equipping prisoners with the skills that will help them gain a job when they leave.
Mike Basely, chairman of the Birmingham Employer Coalition, said: "On release ex-offenders generally have up-to-date training, current and appropriate vocational qualifications as well as the soft skills such as team work which are most needed by employers."
He added people with criminal records made up a fifth of the total labour force and businesses could not afford to ignore them as a potential supply of labour.
The business community last night supported the drive.
The Birmingham Chamber of Commerce said most companies would be happy to contribute to the rehabilitation of offenders.
Spokesman John Lamb said: "This won't plug the skills gap but it will help that problem.
"If ex-offenders are taking the trouble to get themselves skilled it says something about their commitment to being reintegrated back into society."
He added: "Obviously if they were to re-offend they would end up back where they started."
However, the Federation of Small Businesses said many of its members would not have the resources to help with reintegration support former criminals needed.
"Small businesses don't have that support structure in place," said Mike Cherry, West Midlands policy unit chairman for the FSB.
"They are running a business and are lean on staff and overheads and costs. That doesn't stop them taking on ex-offenders, but there are obviously staffing issues around that."
Mr Cherry was also sceptical that the drive would do m uch to sort out skill shortages.
"Most businesses these days are very clued up to what skills are available from Eastern European countries. They are using them to close the gaps in the UK in a variety of ways."
Britain has a shortage of skilled plumbers, plasterers, electricians and carpenters among other areas.
The Learning and Skills Council has been tasked by the Government to work with employers to develop training and support services geared towards inmates once they are released.
David Cragg, the LSC's West Midlands regional director, said: "One of our key challenges is to ensure a stronger focus on job-related training while an offender is inside. Ex-offenders tend to have skills below those of the general population.
"We are working to provide them with the skills for work as sustained employment is a key to a crime-free life."
Phil Hope, Government Minister for Skills, added: "It makes sense to be doing everything we can to move more people on from their sentence into sustainable employment."