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Black young people - shut out of the labour market?

Mar 16, 2014 - Comments: 0

Our action research project to produce an action plan for improving employment rates for young black men in London will be completed next month.

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that in 2012 the unemployment rate for young black men in England was 50 per cent while the unemployment rate for young white men was 22 per cent. Our research is asking: why is the unemployment rate for young black men so high?

A lot of people think they know the answer to this.  During the research we have heard the same explanations over and again:

  • young black men are in gangs
  • they do badly at school
  • they have low aspirations
  • they get involved in crime.

But what do young black men themselves think are the reasons why unemployment is so high?

We asked young black men this question in an on-line survey and received over 80 replies. They mentioned all the usual things - gangs, crime, aspirations - but these weren’t the main reasons.

Ahead of all other explanations by a long way was racism. Around half of them said that young black men find it harder to find jobs because of racism, discrimination or the negative perceptions that employers have of them. Many gave examples from their own experience; of turning up for interviews and being told that the vacancy had already been filled, or sensing from the interviewers that they are just not going to appoint a black man.

It is impossible to prove racial discrimination in individual cases like these. But there are systematic differences in employment outcomes for black young people; for example, unemployment among black university graduates (12.7% for those graduating in 2011/12) is more than double the rate for white university graduates (6.0%). When all other explanations have been eliminated, to misquote Sherlock Holmes, then what is left must be the answer.

The answer here is what many young black men experience every day as they try to find a job; that racism, discrimination and negative stereotyping by employers are shutting them out of the labour market.

Mind how you go - enterprise in disadvantaged communities

Mar 16, 2014 - Comments: 0

Surveys show that the aspiration to set up one’s own business is consistently higher amongst ethnic minority groups compared to white people. Furthermore, new migrant communities, whilst facing some challenges, are also showing a promising tendency towards entrepreneurship according to a new report. Business and social enterprise support schemes are thus important to support enterprise and entrepreneurship.

Of course, as most race equality campaigners and development specialist know, the mere presence of schemes does not generate fair and equitable access. This has to be worked on - and there are wider challenges that go beyond access issues. Strategic challenges remain because many black and ethnic minority groups are concentrated in disadvantaged areas, which generate their own constraints. Although dispersal from inner city areas is growing many BME communities still live in relatively less prosperous areas. And such areas tend to consistently display lower levels of actual enterprise and entrepreneurship compared to prosperous areas.

Harnessing higher levels of entrepreneurship requires both direct and indirect barriers to be addressed. The former, for example, in terms of generating self-belief and know-how amongst local communities and the later in terms of providing access to finance and premises, boosting the reputation of areas and putting in place long-term regeneration plans. Yet, with the demise of mass area-based initiatives, many local communities are becoming much more dependent on enterprise to create opportunities for local people and stimulate community change.

But risks remain if small scale projects end up generating low-quality entrepreneurship. I can hear some arguing that even low-quality entrepreneurship may be better than the poor quality jobs, being locked out of certain job markets or prospects of unemployment.

Generating low-quality entrepreneurship need not be the default option for disadvantaged communities. We, for example, now know more about what factors explain differences in BME enterprise performance. According to Ram money, management and sectors go a considerable way to explaining these differences.

At the recent launch of BTEG’s Opening Doors Network Enterprise Programme, aimed at young adults aged 18 to 30, delegates also identified a number of other issues we need to be mindful of:

  • When it comes to sectors, we shouldn’t get seduced purely by technology. Young BME entrepreneurs are now creating new starts up in a wide range of industries.

  • And in a connected world, building social capital needs to be integral to any approach

  • There is a need to focus on up-stream enterprise education but the emphasis should be on inspiring entrepreneurship not simply providing employability skills

  • When trying to rejuvenate high streets, ‘pop-up’ premises can help create space for testing new ideas and provide start-up premises - but these only work if set within a wider regeneration plan for the area.

Armed with a broader and richer picture, we should be in a better position to encourage higher quality entrepreneurship in disadvantaged communities.

Your Life is Your Business

Feb 19, 2014 - Comments: 0

A guest blog by Tony Henry, a Routes2Success volunteer role model

Your Life is Your Business

We say that we want a life full of Love, Joy, Peace, Happiness, Laughter, Harmony, Kindness, Patience. However, far too often we end up pointing the blame finger at any and everything else other than ourselves as to why we don’t have what we say we so desire.

How many times have you pointed the finger at your teacher, your parents, your friend, your worst enemy? Remember when you point your finger at someone else there are three fingers pointing back at you.

Sure, there will be situations in life where you will have little or no control as to what happens in your life; however the key is to know and understand that you can control how you react to any given situation or circumstance and that the choice is yours to take.

Which leads me onto a very interesting poem:

That’s Not My Job:

This is a story about four people: Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it.

Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did.

Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job.

Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realised that Somebody wouldn't do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

Not taking RESPONSIBILITY means asking someone to do for you the things you must do for yourself and being angry when they don’t do it.

It cannot be said loud enough “Your Life is Your Business” Think of it this way, if you choose to relinquish RESPONSIBILITY for your life, how can you expect to be RESPONSIBLE for the good things you say you want to receive in your life. How can YOU ensure that you get the best out of your education? How can YOU make sure that you leave school/college/university with the best grades? How can YOU make sure you choose the right career path? If you take RESPONSIBILITY for your own life you can have very few regrets!

In closing Life will work for you, when you make the decision to work your Life. Make a decision today to review your life, identify the areas that you are not satisfied with, make a list of all the things you can do to create the needed changes and in the words of Nike “Just Do It

Live Life, Love Life, and Do life your miracle is waiting around the corner.

Your Lift Doctor, Tony Henry (R2S role model)

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere

Feb 12, 2014 - Comments: 0
Black inmates - social mobility, aspirations and community

Most mornings I jog to work down the busy north London roads of Archway, Holloway Road and Caledonian Road to BTEG’s office in Kings Cross. Along the `Cally Road’ (as it’s known by to the locals) is one of London’s oldest prisons, Pentonville, which was opened in 1842 and houses around 1300 inmates.

My work at BTEG revolves around the justice/penal system and the over-representation of BAME groups within our jails and on the wrong side of the justice system. Running past one of London’s Victorian landmark jails often triggers thoughts of the lives caught up inside and what can be done to keep young people and particularly BAME young people out of these places.

Last November, I was lucky enough to be invited to a challenging debate on social mobility, aspirations and community organised by inmates of HMP Pentonville.

Over 40 inmates attended the debate in the prison library and the level of questions from them was extremely high and perceptive. I was humbled to be part of an auspicious panel of high-achieving people which included journalist Hugh Muir, musician and poet Andrew Ward and broadcaster and social entrepreneur Ricoh Edwards-Brown.

For me, if you are looking at issues of social mobility, inequality has to be mentioned. On all the indicators the UK is becoming a more unequal society and this is hampering social mobility generally compared with other western countries. But for the black community, I suggested, the lack of social mobility was becoming more entrenched, systematic and perversely invisible.

When forces such as discrimination, poverty, widening inequality and, what I would call, institutional inertia on the challenges combine, things can be difficult to change. But the panel members all gave uplifting analyses and personal testimonies to the power of personal change.

Change from within has to be accompanied by wider change in society; as Martin Luther King said `injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ In our sometimes apathetic times, it’s a quote that should rouse our passion. Mine was certainly roused by the intellect of the inmates.

I was delighted to give my copy of the Spirit Level – the landmark book by Professor Richard Wilkinson and Dr Kate Pickett which led to the development of the Equality Trust (read more here) - to the event chair Peter, a prisoner in Pentonville. He told me he writes and hopefully one day we will see his words in print.

You can read more about the debate on the Prison Education Trust site here

Are you positive about your self-image?

Feb 12, 2014 - Comments: 0

What does self-image mean to you:

  • What others think of you?
  • What you have achieved or not achieved?
  • What you see when you look in the mirror?

I guess everyone has their own definition of what self-image means to them.

Having worked with young people in a pastoral capacity for over seven years and from attending a Routes2Success session on Friday, I have found that most young people base their perceptions of themselves on what others’ think of them. The thoughts and feelings of others towards young people make them either feel positive or negative about themselves.

Interestingly enough on Friday, when a group of young black boys was asked whether they had a positive self-image about themselves, the few that put their hands up to say they didn’t referred to the fact that they got into trouble at school a lot and now had a reputation. This made them feel like they had a negative self-image. Their self-image was based on what others tended to say about them or thought about them, rather than what they thought about themselves.

Of course, it is always important to think about and consider what other people say about you, but at the same time it is important for us to be positive about ourselves. If you can’t say one positive thing about yourself, how can others see the positive in you?

A definition of self-image “is a person’s mental picture of themselves in terms of both their physicality and personality. It’s a combination of someone’s thoughts about what they think they look like, how they see their personality, their beliefs on what others think of them, how much they like themselves and how they see and feel about their status in life.” which is said to link closely to one’s self-esteem.

What concerns me particularly with some young black males is that stereotypes lead them to constantly have a poor self-image which leads to low self-esteem which further leads to low aspirations. If the perception of others’ makes up part of how you feel about yourself then some black boys, based on media stereotypes and statistics, are going to have quite a negative self-image.

This somewhat pains me, which is why I believe the work that the Routes2Success role models do is not only important but necessary to help instil a positive self-image to black boys and help them to raise their aspirations.

What I took away from the session on Friday, and from the feedback from some of the boys at the school, is that self-image is not only about what others think of you, but also about how much you like yourself and see your own potential.

So, what do you think about yourself?

Read more about promoting a positive self-image here

Inclusive Growth and Enterprise – Join the Debate and Share Ideas on 12 Feb 2014

Jan 29, 2014 - Comments: 0

As the UK economy emerges from the deepest recession since the 1930s, the debate is shifting onto the nature of that growth. London as a global city is the driving force for the national economy but it also remains a divided city with the fortunes of people and places intertwined. Many young people from a range of backgrounds are trapped by unemployment and underemployment. According to the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission “disadvantage and advantage cascade down the generations”.

So is the die cast for many disadvantaged young people or can they play a role in their own destiny? Is it time to put entrepreneurship on the map alongside other measures to promote mobility? Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has argued that economic opportunity now needs to be the next frontier for race equality. So what is the realistic opportunity to scale up entrepreneurship amongst young adults - who may not only lack financial capital and business acumen but also social capital? And with technology and changing consumer habits driving a retail revolution, is this once a natural route into business in free fall?

Join us at the launch of the BTEG’s Opening Doors Enterprise Programme to discuss these issues. The event is taking place on 12th February 2014 from 3.00pm to 6.00pm at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, 748 High Rd, Tottenham, London N17 0AP. There is an excellent line of speakers and you can immediately book a place here.

Raj Patel, MBE

Programme Director (interim)

Opening Doors Network: Enterprise Programme

Equality, racism and BME Sector Leadership: Crises or opportunity for revitalisation?

Dec 10, 2013 - Comments: 0

The 1960s, 70s and 80s was a tough place to be an ethnic minority in Britain. Racial tensions, high unemployment, poor housing, inner city deprivation and stop and search “sus laws” saw riots erupt across a number of cities. It was also the period which saw a generation of Black and Asian young people become activists and organisations sprung up across the country to serve the needs of BAME communities, highlight their plight and promote race equality. But is the BAME voluntary sector now in crises at a time when race and immigration are the second highest issue of public concern after the economy?

With integration better than most places in the world, there is a great deal to be positive about race relations in Britain. However, according to a BBC report in 2012, nearly 88,000 racist incidents were recorded in Britain's schools between 2007 and 2011. Data from 90 areas showed 87,915 cases of racist bullying, with Birmingham recording the highest number of incidents at 5,752, followed by Leeds with 4,690. Carmarthenshire had the lowest number with just 5 cases. Many areas including Luton, Oldham, Croydon, Bedford and Middlesbrough saw an increase of 40% or more over the period 2007/08 to 2009/10, whilst in Cardiff, there was a 32% increase in cases of racism in schools.

Not surprisingly, some commentators believe that racism is on the rise again in Britain, and the tragic and violent death of Bijan Ebrahimi is a stark reminder that hard won gains can be lost without constant vigilance and new ways to catalyse positive social change.

Austerity measures, though, have dramatically reduced the capacity of the BAME voluntary sector to hold the Government and other institutions to account, stimulate evidence-based debate, provide practical help to individuals and promote fairness. Area-based initiatives, which sustained many local organisations, have been all but dismantled. According to new research by the Third Sector Research Centre, managers and employees in BAME organisations feel their work is less valued than previously in the current political context. Faith groups on the other have been thriving in many communities.

So does the BAME sector have to offer anything distinctive in the 21st century? Many have struggled to compete in contract and service driven markets, unable to provide economies of scale or adequately differentiate their activities. Those engaged in advocacy have done so on the back of support for service delivery. Yet, whilst service provision might not necessarily offer a differentiator for some organisations, advocacy clearly can.

But scaling up advocacy is not straightforward and requires some creative thinking by the sector. It is profoundly very different from service delivery, particularly in terms of securing outcomes. Services can generate atomised and measureable successes but “in advocacy well designed efforts often fail, scaled-up efforts often have no more success than smaller ones, and replication of previously successful models doesn’t always lead to success” (Teles and Schmitt, 2011).

One of the big challenges facing the BAME sector is also a generational one. How do 2nd and 3rd generation young people perceive and think about racism and equality today? Is there a critical mass of young people picking up the mantle of championing economic and social justice?

Each generation needs to define its own challenges, and maybe if there is a lasting legacy from the struggles of the 1960s and 1970s and the subsequent progress, it is to ensure that a generation with new ideas and energy picks up the baton. And from the ‘click to change the world’ generation, we may just see the revitalisation of the BAME sector – and probably not as we currently know it.

This Message Is For Young Black Men Of African, Caribbean And Mixed Origin Aged 16-25 Years Of Age

Sep 09, 2013 - Comments: 0

Join us at the BEX Live Routes2Success Future Entrepreneurs Workshop 11am-1pm Saturday

21st September, Birmingham Town Hall

My charity, the Black Training and Enterprise Group, cares about the future of all young people in this country because young people deserve to have opportunities to fulfil their potential and develop their talents. The statistics show that the chances of young black men being successful in education and employment are not high compared to other groups of people. There are more young black men unemployed than employed. This is wrong but how do we change this situation and what can you do to help yourself?

President Obama recently said that young black men are ‘painted with a broad brush’ compared to other young men in America. This portrayal of young black men links to drugs and crime, unemployment and aggression. The negative stereotypes of young black men impact on their job prospects - what do you think?

In our country young black men find it harder to get work; are more likely to be stopped and search and to end up in prison. Hard working young black men have told me they don’t want to be another ‘statistic’.

You may fit into one of four situations at the moment:

  • At 6th form, college or university
  • At work (hopefully with good prospects and receiving further training apprenticeship)
  • Not in employment, education or training (NEET) or
  • Looking for work or planning to start your own business.

If you are studying and have a clear career goal in mind - well done. Keep working hard and think about joining our Routes2Success (R2S) network. Just make sure you are taking the right subjects and courses to get to your chosen destination. Do you know someone in the occupation that you plan to enter who can give you some useful advice?

If you are frustrated with your situation; have been in the criminal justice system or are just are not sure what to do to get to the next level, then get involved with Routes2Success. Now is the time to do something different to help yourself. Many young black men do succeed, so there is nothing to stop you succeeding - except yourself. Some people may want to hold you back but no matter how difficult your situation is there will be choices for you to take - make the best choices for you.

There is no quick fix. You are going to have to make the effort and put in the hard work. Everyone has something to offer - ideas, commitment, knowledge, personality, communication skills, integrity and willingness to learn. What do you have to offer?

My charity wants to work with you and help you to network with successful people. We now have a volunteer force of successful black men that want to connect with you. They want to inspire you to do the very best for yourself by sharing their experiences of work and business. These role models have been chosen by young black men. We believe it’s time to invest in talented young black men. Remember - we just want you to be successful at whatever you choose to do.

Come and meet successful entrepreneurs and share your ideas at our R2S networking event. We also want to hear about what you want to do with your life chances. All you have to do is book a place and come along You will not be disappointed.

Routes2Success recruits 20 volunteer role models

Aug 30, 2013
Routes2Success recruits 20 volunteer role models and begins to engage with local organisations across the UK to inspire young Black males of African, Caribbean and Mixed origin
Jamie Rodney & Anthony Henry (R2S Role Models)

Jamie Rodney & Anthony Henry (R2S Role Models)

The Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) is delighted to announce that we have now recruited 20 enthusiastic, motivated and successful black professional men across the UK who are willing to commit and volunteer their time to make a difference to the next generation. We are hoping to attract more attention from even more successful black men who will come on board as a Routes2Success role model.

On Saturday 29th June 2013, we held our first Role Model Induction Training Day, it was a very successful day with many of the role models leaving feeling ready to inspire the next generation.

Feedback was very positive from the event and we are hoping to induct our second batch of role models in September.

The second R2S Role Model Recruitment event hosted by BTEG at The Drum in Birmingham on Monday 8th July 2013, the event entitled ‘You can make a difference to the future of young black males’ was a another successful evening with many of the successful black professional men wanting to engage with the programme.

BTEG have now been engaging with local and statutory organisations who work with young black males between the ages of 11-25, so that they can use R2S role models to go out and inspire them to reach their full potential in education, employment and entrepreneurship. It is refreshing and encouraging to see the responses flooding in from local youth groups in boroughs across London and areas in England such as Liverpool; as well as Young Offender Institutions and Children’s Homes who want to engage in the Routes2Success Programme in order to help young black men that they work with. If you are a local organisation that wants to be a part of the programme please get in touch!

We are taking part in Birmingham’s BEX Live event on Saturday 21st September 2013, at Birmingham Town Hall. BTEG are giving young black men (aged 16-25) the opportunity to meet three successful entrepreneurs through the Routes2Success programme who will inspire them, give them advice and tips about how to start up and run a successful business and even give them the opportunity to pitch their own business ideas. Also, look out for up and coming events for Black History Month featuring BTEG’s R2S role models in London and Manchester.

Young people need to have aims

Mar 25, 2013 - Comments: 0

Aspirations, desires or ambitions are essential for the direction that young people take their lives.  Young people need to have aims which will guide them on their educational and career paths. The lack of suitable aspirations is an important factor in the under-representation of BAME young people in desirable and well-rewarded jobs.

BAME voluntary and community organisations and social enterprises have a long track record of helping young people to realise their full potential. As community leaders and parents we want young people to make the fullest use of their capabilities, but for some reason, there is still a distinct lack of progression on the social mobility ladder.

Is what we are offering as a sector still appropriate to what BAME young people need and want? Are we listening to the real issues stifling their progression? Are BAME organisations equipped to manage this change?

Many funders rightly want to see young people shaping provision. Importantly young people hold a wide range of views about how much emphasis to place on ethnicity – some see place and deprivation as bigger determinants of future opportunities. The issue is complex but we have to listen to their views and work together to develop and improve our provision.

BTEG has been exploring these issues from an organisational perspective but also the young person’s view point with a focus on education, employment and enterprise. We need to dig deeper and so we have put together a free event - Knowing the Needs. Providing the Services – that will explore these issues in detail. For more information click here


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