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Coalition calls on Government to tackle unemployment disparities for young black men in London

It is a great disappointment that the recent report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities did not acknowledge the systemic racial injustice that runs through our society and its institutions. Whilst it is important to recognise that progress has been made in some areas, unfortunately the ongoing disparities of social outcomes based on race is evidence enough that we still have a long way to go, and renewed action is urgently needed.

One example is employment rates - the data shows that young black men in London are up to three times more likely to be unemployed as young white men. For graduates the disparity is even starker; young black male graduates are up to four times more likely to be unemployed than young white male graduates.

With youth unemployment rising across the UK, young black men, who faced employment inequalities even before the crisis, are at particular risk. In response, a coalition of charities and young black men have called for the Government to take positive action to close the employment gap between young black men and young white men.

The four asks for the Government are:

  1. To publish quarterly unemployment statistics by age, gender and ethnicity.

  2. To require local action plans to tackle ethnic employment gaps in areas of high unemployment.

  3. To require all employers with 250+ employees to monitor and publish information about job applications and appointments by age, gender and ethnicity (including in relation to apprentices).

  4. To adopt the Inclusive Employer Toolkit and encourage all employers to use it and report on progress.

The coalition – called Moving on Up – has been working since 2014 to increase employment opportunities for young black men in London. Members include the Black Training Enterprise Group (BTEG and Trust for London, and working closely with the Mayor of London’s Workforce Integration Network, Jobcentre Plus, plus a wide range of employers, voluntary and community sector organisations, and most importantly young black male ambassadors.

Young black men in London are up to three times more likely to be unemployed as young white men. For graduates the disparity is even starker; young black male graduates are up to four times more likely to be unemployed than young white male graduates.

Moving on Up seeks to level up the employment rate of young black men in London so there is no disparity with young white men. It has been piloting practical solutions to address the inequalities in employment outcomes, with over 300 young black men in work following participation in the initiative.

Jeremy Crook, Chief Executive of BTEG who lead on the Moving on Up initiative said:

“There is a wonderful talent pool of young black males in this country, but the evidence indicates this talent pool is significantly underutilised in several key industry sectors such as engineering and construction. We see these as structural challenges. Whilst we welcome the current Government interventions to help young people during the pandemic namely: financial incentives for employers to create an apprenticeship, Kickstart and traineeships, we do not think these measures alone will overcome the systemic racial disparities that prevail. We also know from our work with young black men that many do not claim Universal Credit or visit jobcentres because of the social stigma. The Kickstart requirement of being in receipt of Universal Credit means that many young black men may be excluded.”

Sioned Churchill, Director of Grants at Trust for London, one of the partners, said:

“There are persistent racial inequalities in apprenticeships - especially in sectors where there has been historic under representation of black and Asian young people such as engineering and construction. There is currently no government target for ethnic minority employment, and this needs to be addressed urgently.”

Aswad, a young black male ambassador, said:

“One in five of all young men in London are from black ethnic groups. We have the same career hopes and dreams as other young people, but fewer opportunities are available to us and negative or discriminatory experiences during recruitment processes are commonplace. Unemployment rates for young black men are rising sharply and far faster than for other young people. We need the Government to take action to address this.”

For more information on Moving on Up, visit the BTEG website.


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