Many graduates still get little return on their investment, particularly if they’re BAME.
Graduate employment statistics released today indicate that in 2015 the percentage of graduates in high-skill (i.e. graduate) employment was only 66.2 per cent, meaning just over a third of graduates were in non-graduate positions. Frances O’Grady commented:
“There are simply not enough quality jobs for young people leaving university. Far too many graduates are being forced take on roles which do not make the most of their talents.”
This figure represents a slight decline from the 2014 figure of 65.7 per cent. As the chart below indicates graduate employment has been on a long term decline since the crash; the uptick in 2013 / 2014 has now reversed.
The numbers help confirm the image of an economy increasingly reliant on low-paid, low-skilled labour where good jobs are hard to find, even for those who have paid a large amounts for a university education. Such a mismatch between skills and employment is a drag on productivity at a time when UK performance on this measure is already disappointing.
However, if the prospects for graduates as a whole is gloomy, then it is even worse for Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) graduates.
Ethnic minority graduates as a whole are less likely to be in high-skilled employment. However, the situation is worse for Black graduates. Black graduates are around 10 per cent less likely to be in high-skilled work than White. Whereas over half of graduates classified as “Asian” or “Other”, and nearly 70 per cent of “White” graduates are in graduate jobs, a majority of Black graduates are not. The situation is even starker if we look at specifically young graduates (aged 21-30): only 37 per cent of Black graduates in this age group are in high skilled work, compared to 58 per cent of White graduates, 49 per cent of Asian and 48 per cent of those classified as “Other”.
Previous research conducted by the TUC has indicated that BAME graduates are more likely to be unemployed than their White counterparts, and that they will earn less once they are employed. Drilling down into the figures, we find that the pay gap is biggest for Black African / Caribbean / Black British employees.
Overall the picture is of stubbornly persistent ethnic inequality in a job market that provides fewer and fewer good quality jobs. The Government urgently needs to invest in the kind of employment that can provide a decent living for its citizens and sustainable growth for the economy. At the same time, the new Racism taskforce must focus on measures to address the ethnic penalty in employment the TUC has called for: a race equality strategy, with clear targets and adequate resourcing; ensure anonymised application forms are used in the private sector and ensure all employers monitor their recruitment process for discrimination against BAME candidates.
Leaving aside the fact that stark racial disparity like this is damaging for a civilised society; BAME graduates are being held back from earning to their full potential. This creates a drag on the economy which everyone in society pays for.