From the TUC

More likely to go to prison than university? But a degree doesn’t close the pay gap.

01 Feb 2016, by in Equality

David Cameron’s front page of the Sunday Times announced a concerted Government anti-discrimination drive. Targeting universities, the police, the courts and the armed forces he said steps must be taken to tackle the ongoing discrimination that “should shame our country and jolt us to action”. Controversially he claimed that “if you’re a young black man, you’re more likely to be in a prison cell than studying at a top university”.

There is evidence that suggests that BAME candidates are less likely to receive offers from elite universities. Perhaps requiring universities to “publish admissions and retention data by gender, ethnic background and socio-economic class” would help this.

What analysis has the TUC done?

Yet I’m not entirely sure that David Cameron fully understands the problem. In terms of education, some substantial achievements have been made. Our analysis shows that nearly half (45 per cent) of BAME employees have degrees, compared with less than a third (31 per cent) of white employees:

Levels of educational attainment White employees Black/ African/ Caribbean/ Black British employees BAME employees
  Number Proportion of white employees (%) Numbers Proportion of black employees (%) Numbers Proportion of BAME employees


Degree or equivalent 7184637 31% 259524 36% 1289428 45%
GCE A level or equivalent 5684793 24% 130023 18% 424571 15%
GCSE grades A*-C or equivalent 4950959 21% 107968 15% 354225 12%
No qualification 1182492 5% 40707 6% 191331 7%


Note: this table does not include those whose highest attainment is higher education or other education

However, TUC analysis shows (and this has also been found by other research institutions) that education is no safeguard against unfair treatment in the workplace.

Our analysis released today considers the pay gap by educational attainment through examining the Labour Force Survey. We analysed the data going back 4 quarters at a time to 2011 (due to changes in the measure of ethnicity this was the furthest we could go), in order to reduce the issue of seasonality and statistical noise.

We chose to focus on gross hourly pay, as this is the methodology used to calculate the gender pay gap. This actually hides the extent of the problem, as it does not take into account the hours worked by different ethnic groups. Given a big problem for BAME employees is casualization (where they are more likely to be employed on temporary or part time contracts), using weekly, monthly or annual pay would have made for a more striking story.

What did we find?

For a full breakdown see table here

We found gross hourly pay to be:

Gross hourly pay 2015 Q3- 2014 Q4 2012 Q3- 2011 Q4
White employees Black/ African/ Carribean/ Black British employees BAME employees White employees Black/ African/ Carribean/ Black British employees BAME employees
Degree or equivalent 18.63 14.33 16.70 18.28 14.50 16.23
GCE A level or equivalent 11.53 9.88 9.55 11.03 9.75 9.85
GCSE grades A*-C or equivalent 10.33 9.15 8.93 9.90 10.35 9.10
No qualification 8.90 9.00 8.25 8.55 7.03 7.33
Aggregate 13.45 11.73 12.70 12.85 11.58 12.43

Which translates into a “pay gap” of (percentage):

 “Pay gap” 2015 Q3 – 2014 Q4 2012 Q3 – 2011 Q4
Black/ African/ Carribean/ Black British employees BAME employees Black/ African/ Carribean/ Black British employees BAME employees
Degree or equivalent 23.1% 10.3% 20.7% 11.2%
GCE A level or equivalent 14.3% 17.1% 11.6% 10.7%
GCSE grades A*-C or equivalent 11.4% 13.6% -4.5% 8.1%
No qualification -1.1% 7.3% 17.8% 14.3%
Aggregate 12.8% 5.6% 9.9% 3.3%

What did we conclude?

1. The pay gap is getting worse.

We were only able to analyse the pay gap over 4 periods, which is obviously unfortunate. However it feels that David Cameron should have raised the issue of “ingrained, institutional and insidious” disadvantage sooner, given that it appears the pay gap has been getting bigger. It is clear to see that in general pay discrimination remains entrenched, with the overall pay gap of 5.6 per cent for BAME workers and 12.8 per cent for black workers being the widest it’s been over the periods examined.

2. The pay gap widens with educational attainment

Whilst equality of opportunity is a commendable goal, it cannot be achieved through education alone. Working hard to gain qualifications in further education, higher education or even a degree might increase actual pay but doesn’t increase equality. Our analysis has shown that a black graduate worker can expect to be paid an astonishing 23.1 per cent less than their white counterpart. With a £4.33/hour difference, that can quickly add up to huge differences in quality of life.

What do we want to see?

As David Cameron said “I don’t care whether it’s overt, unconscious or institutional – we’ve got to stamp it out”.

However, the policy agenda cannot end with fair university admissions. Given that the gaps are widest for those with highest qualifications, education alone will not fully address inequalities in the workplace.

The TUC is calling on the government to recognise the scale of the problem and urgently develop a race equality strategy as a matter of political priority, with clear targets and adequate resourcing.

This should include measures to tackle the growth of casualised work, which disproportionately affects BAME workers; requirements on employers to analyse and publish pay data by ethnicity; and a requirement for public authorities to use procurement to spread good practice.

Plus, the government must encourage employers to focus on fostering opportunities for BAME leadership and building transparent career progression pathways, as well as tackling discrimination in recruitment through measures such as anonymised CVs.


6 Responses to More likely to go to prison than university? But a degree doesn’t close the pay gap.

  1. Graham Riches
    Feb 2nd 2016, 2:50 am

    As a 66 years of age father of two sons aged 10 and 13 years born in Wales, with my BSc wife/their mother originally Filipino before becoming British within forty-two m0nths of arrival in UK as my wife in December 2001, I am not surprised by the evidence produced when, for example, there has been the, as announced last year in the media, evidence of approximately 25 per cent lesser average earnings figure quoted for women measured against male counterparts.
    Last week I drew to the attention of several Welsh Assembly members with constituents probably sending their children to primary and secondary schools in their respective areas, such also being my sons’ respective schools, how even the “simple” delivery of Free School Meals (making each such registered pupil worth to the schools’ respective budgets seemingly over £600 per student each academic year after cost of meals) fails at some schools when not provided in suitable ANONYMOUS manner, causing many I suspect to “study hungry” and possibly take examinations in part (when during afternoons in particular) with “empty” stomachs.
    It may seem too cynical, when based on a background of over 40 years in the financial services industry, but I still remember being told at 20 years of age, by a male colleague, that it would “not be enough to pass the Chartered Insurance Institute’s examinations and do the work well” – my only conclusion being, as stated by another male colleague, “It is not what you know but who you know”!
    Then of course, if involved in, for example, commenting upon safety aspects at work, there is the possibility of potentially being “blacklisted”, according to experiences of now seemingly possibly thousands of suitably qualified/highly experienced persons, and, at least one of us believes, that may cascade down to adversely impact upon even younger children’s educations, even before considering the potential disadvantages for some seemingly potentially associated with such as “Prevent/ Channel”, if the students are referred by such as school teachers on a “…not what you know but who you know basis” possibly “influenced” by any such “referred students” having parents who do not “network” in a “who you know” manner.
    Graham Riches, Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute (retired 2009 but still conducting ethics related research)

  2. Graham Riches
    Feb 2nd 2016, 3:37 am

    As my only children are boys, born in Wales, aged 10 and 13 years and their mother came to UK in December 2001, as my BSc qualified wife, who had been Filipino until becoming British by May 2005, I am very concerned by the details produced above but not surprised that there are the indicated lesser earnings’ figures, given last year’s suggestions, quoted in the media, of women being seemingly on average paid approximately 25% less than their male counterparts.
    In 1970 I had been told by a male colleague that it would not be “enough to pass the Chartered Insurance Institute’s examinations and do the work well”, before being told, by another male colleague, “It is not what you know but who you know”.
    Given recent excellent coverage of “blacklisting” concerns and reports on “Prevent/Channel” involving such as school teachers being asked to identify students showing signs seemingly of “radicalisation”, I do fear that some such students may be “referred” for reasons associated with their parents’ backgrounds (as perceived by persons with ” networking” lifestyles) simply when such families are “different” to the majority associated with sending students to such school(s) and not “networking” in the assumed “norm” fashion. Then possibly such “cultural” difference could seemingly impact possibly on even aspects of school life/opportunities for some students, also almost being “selected to “fail” academically based on expectations of some teachers.
    Graham Riches, Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute
    (retired since 2009 but interested in ethics related research)

  3. jeremy
    Feb 4th 2016, 10:03 am

    There’s no point trying to work out whether Dodgydave understands anything he says. He’s a liar, fraud and talentless human being. Whilst a totally out of control government, elected by 25% of the nation, continues its oppressive ways in what way does dealing with oppression, discrimination, prejudice by him mean anything????? He should be before the Haig answering the charge of denying human rights and killing disabled people – now there’s dealing with discrimination for ya!!

  4. Luke Price
    Feb 4th 2016, 10:41 am

    Interesting analysis, thanks for this.

    I was wondering whether you looked at occupational segregation as part of this? I.e. are non-White ethnic groups earning less in the same jobs or due to being underemployed?

    Also, did you do any analysis via gender & ethnicity as well? Would be interested to know whether being a BAME women effects the pay gap (I would assume it does)

  5. Florence Bates

    Florence Bates
    Feb 4th 2016, 3:00 pm

    Hi Luke! Thank you so much for your interest. It’s a brilliant question, and sadly we didn’t have the chance to look into it for this piece of analysis. However we are hoping to release more analysis in the run up to the Black Workers conference we host in April, and these are certainly avenues we’re considering!

  6. Florence Bates

    Florence Bates
    Feb 4th 2016, 3:04 pm

    Hi Jeremy, thanks for reading! I think you might be interested in Richard’s blogs on welfare – for example see