Ethnic minorities in Britain better qualified and yet denied jobs
Britain’s ethnic minorities experience barriers to social mobility and employment even though they are better qualified, in many cases, than their white counterparts.
According to a report by University of Manchester researchers, levels of educational attainment have improved significantly for ethnic minorities, but these have not translated into improved outcomes in the labour market.
The Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) finds that, although more of Britain’s ethnic minorities are working in clerical, professional and managerial jobs, they still face significant barriers to enjoying the levels of social mobility of their white British peers.
Led by Professors James Nazroo, Anthony Heath and Yaojun Li from The University of Manchester, the report on ethnic inequalities in social mobility will be presented to the House of Lords in a meeting sponsored by Baroness Prashar and Cumberland Lodge.
The report brings together research by the Economic and Social Research Council funded CoDE on education and employment based on census analysis of ethnic groups and a large number of longitudinal surveys of individual experiences of social mobility.
Dr Laurence Brown from The University of Manchester, who is one of the contributors to the report, said: “It’s clear that ethnic minorities in Britain are – in many cases - outperforming their white peers in both secondary and higher education. However, very few of these gains in education have translated into employment outcomes.”
According to the report, in secondary education, Chinese, Indian, Irish, Bangladeshi and Black African students are now outperforming their White British peers in obtaining 5 or more GSCEs at grade A* to C.
All black and ethnic minority groups have significantly improved their access to universities, with the most disadvantaged groups - Pakistani and Bangladeshi - quadrupling their rates of degree level qualifications.
Yet there is increasingly a disconnection between these improvements in educational performance, and the continuing barriers and vulnerabilities experienced by ethnic minorities in the labour market.
Black male unemployment has remained persistently double that of Whites, and Black rates of unemployment reach 22% in the most deprived areas of Britain.
Black women and men are particularly likely to experience downwards mobility, with full-time employment rates for Black women falling across the decade.
Surveys of young British Muslim women have highlighted how employer discrimination has been a significant barrier to employment for those who wear the hijab and niqab notwithstanding their high levels of graduate and post-graduate qualifications.
Dr Brown added: “Routes to social mobility for ethnic minorities have traditionally been further education and public sector employment. But over the past 20 years, these opportunities have significantly diminished.
“The need for new routes to mobility is crucial given the over-exposure of ethnic minorities to deprivation and poverty in Britain. A third of Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups in England and a fifth of its Black African, Black Caribbean, and Arab populations live in the country’s most deprived neighbourhoods, compared to 8% of the white British population. Similar ethnic disparities mark statistics on working families in poverty and low income earnings.
“That is why finding new ways of enabling social mobility is a fundamental issue which needs to be tackled by policy makers.”
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