BAME workers with all levels of qualifications still face high unemployment
When you are young there is an expectation that if you gain higher educational qualifications it will lead to a decent job and higher wages but this is not always the case, especially when you are a Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) young worker. A shocking new report black, qualified and unemployed released today by the TUC shows that for all levels of educational qualifications BAME workers are more likely to be unemployed than white workers.
TUC analysis of recent unemployment data shows that black communities are twice as likely to be unemployed than white workers. This exposes the level of unemployment as being higher for BAME people regardless of qualification levels. BAME graduates with a first degree are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as white graduates. This finding comes soon after a report where we highlighted the pay gap between white and black workers as being at its widest at degree level.
Today’s report highlights the employment gap between BAME workers and white workers who have completed apprenticeships as 23 per cent. BAME workers with A-Levels are three times more likely than white workers to be unemployed and if it couldn’t get any worse BAME workers who have obtained vocational qualifications at HNC/HND level are almost three times more likely to be unemployed as white workers. For a technical discussion on how the figures were calculated I would strongly recommend you read Flo’s blog.
According to research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) on ethnicity and poverty BAME employees gain slightly higher educational qualifications than white workers but disproportionate numbers of BAME workers are overqualified for their jobs. So although BAME workers have the qualifications across all levels of education they are still more likely to be in jobs that they are overqualified to do.
The TUC has campaigned for concerted and co-ordinated action to eliminate institutional racism and discrimination in the workplace as that is why these shocking figures exist. Unions believe urgent action needs to be taken to ensure ethnic minority communities have a fairer chance in the labour market without the expectation of facing discrimination.
There is an urgent and serious need for government to develop a race equality strategy with clear targets and adequate resourcing. The government should also ensure anonymised application forms are used as standard across the public sector and encourage more private sector employers to do the same. Employers should also be required to monitor the application process at all stages of the recruitment process to ensure BAME workers have a level playing field.
Recently the Business Secretary Sajid Javid announced a review into increasing progression in the labour market for BAME workers and the government committed to increase BAME employment levels and access to apprenticeships. We welcome these announcements but the government needs to do more to tackle discrimination against BAME workers otherwise these actions will do nothing to improve employment chances.
Education is a right from birth, but this report shows that educational attainment alone does not guarantee employment. We need to be mindful of the high risk that young black people might decide not to invest their time and money in education. The government needs to seriously begin facing the facts that institutional racism and discrimination are embedded in the labour market and take steps to address the barriers of racial inequality in the labour market.