Select Committee on Education and Employment Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from Black Training & Enterprise Group


  1.1  Black[18] Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) is a national organisation, established in 1991 by representatives from the black voluntary sector. BTEG represents over 200 organisations and continues to grow. The Group is unique in England for its focus on training, employment, enterprise and regeneration.

  1.2  BTEG's mission is to ensure fair access and outcomes for black communities in employment, training and enterprise; and to act as a catalyst for enabling black groups and individuals to play an active role in the economic regeneration of local communities through partnership with others.

  1.3  BTEG is a member of the DfEE Advisory Group to the New Deal Task Force, DfEE National Monitoring Committees for ESF Objective 3 and 4, Social Exclusion Unit's Policy Action Team (PAT) on Jobs, LGA Race and the Built Environment Working Group and the Urban Forum.


Fair recruitment

  2.1  In BTEG's view, whilst employers should realise their moral and social obligations for employing people from deprived neighbourhoods and in particular black communities, the "business case" for equality has so far had a limited impact upon rates of unemployment in black communities. For example, initiatives such as Race for Opportunity have done little to influence recruitment practices of our top companies. It should be noted that the "business case" varies across different groups of employees and sectors of employment, which requires a sophisticated understanding of what the "business case" actually is for someone's own business—not a case of one "case" fits all.

  2.2  A high profile campaign targeted towards "fair recruitment" would have lasting value, as many employers tend to shy away from equal opportunities (EO) and "business case" campaigns. Any campaign should be supported at the front-line by skilled professionals that can advocate equalities and offer practical advice to employers on how to implement such policies into their working practices.

  2.3  Campaigns on "fair recruitment" can have the desired effect, though quite often the real test arises on how to influence local employer networks. Hence, this is a prime area for development and should be incorporated into a future "fair recruitment" campaign, with assistance from the Small Business Service and local Chambers of Commerce.

  2.4  Discrimination is still widespread and continues to undermine the confidence and determination of many black people who still hope to get a job on their merit. A major campaign can raise the awareness amongst employers and the public about the need to adopt fair recruitment practices, particularly if the campaign is to be supported with practical advice and robust monitoring that can ensure meaningful change.

Government action

  2.5  Lessons can be learnt from PATH (Positive Action through Housing) initiatives but also from campaigns in the USA involving employers of all sizes. Similarly, the "toolkit" ("Closing the Gap: A Self-Assessment Pack for New Deal Partnerships") developed for implementing the DfEE's Ethnic Minority Strategy for New Deal is a practical method of showing how to turn theory into good practice.

  2.6  The Policy Action Team (PAT) on Jobs report, Jobs for All, recommends "a sustained campaign on racial equality". The report and its recommendations probably represent the most progressive strategy for reducing black unemployment ever produced by a British Government, heralding a key shift in government policy in tackling racial discrimination "head-on".

  2.5  If the objective of labour market programmes is to get unemployed black people into work and stay in work then a legacy of mistrust in employment programmes has to be reversed, which requires further work on the demand side, ie with employers and those looking for work. However, vocational training must be of high quality and linked to employer requirements. Training providers should ensure the best (job) outcome for their trainees, which will include challenging discrimination by employers.

  2.6  Indeed, the notion of EO does not necessarily entail equal outcomes for black communities. The Government should ensure that there is sufficient practical assistance available for organisations to deliver on equal access and outcomes.


  3.1  The Government has to take a consistent approach to its employment programmes and communicate this at a number of levels including:

    —  regional (eg Regional Development Agencies)

    —  local (eg Learning and Skills Councils, Employment Services, and Lifelong Learning Partnerships).

  This should include consistent data collection to identify gaps in programmes and in analysing trends in the national, regional and local labour market so as to ensure effective action is undertaken to address performance disparities.

  3.2  Traditional approaches to regeneration and economic development haven't had real impact job creation or sustainable employment for local communities, in particular black communities.

  3.3  For example, flagship developments such as the Albert Dock in Liverpool has provided little benefits for its immediate residents in the "Liverpool 8" community (Granby/Toxteth). Similarly, the economic growth created by firms along the "M4 corridor" has had little impact on unemployment levels for black communities living in Slough or Reading, with rates still two to three times the region's average.

  3.4  The impact of racial discrimination and disadvantage in the labour market has been well documented in a number of Government and independent research reports. This is clearly evident in the disproportionate number of black people in low-skilled/low-paid jobs, and their significantly greater chance of living in a deprived area.

  3.5  Whilst we emphasise the need to get people into jobs, the Government should recognise that more effort is required to get unemployed black people into all levels of occupations, particularly jobs in growth industries. Strong evidence suggesting under-representation of black people at senior management level requires Positive Action initiatives. For example, Modern Apprenticeship targets should be set in growth industries.

  3.6  In some areas, particularly in shire counties and rural areas, there may be a perception of having to go "that extra mile" to reach out to black communities and that this may not be "value for money". Hence, mechanisms should be in place to ensure all agencies are delivering to as many potential beneficiaries as possible, regardless of "unit costs".

  3.7  Many employers do reap the benefits from Government employment programmes, but many still do not, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises. Hence, one has to ask whether the "message" to employers on programmes such as New Deal and Modern Apprenticeships is getting through or whether employers see these programmes as not "producing the goods".

  3.8  Ultimately though, the UK labour force market is generally flexible, skilled and mobile. However, the same cannot be said for the long-term unemployed, particularly those living in areas of high deprivation and/or from black communities.


  4.1  Larger employers have been more pro-active in outreach work to the labour market through recruitment fairs, partnership work and local media coverage. However, more often than not the resultant jobs are low-skilled and low-paid.

  4.2  As mentioned before, do employers have confidence in programmes such as New Deal or vocational training such as Work-Based Learning for Adults (WBLA)? The New Deal has managed to sign up over 10,000 employers to date, though there is a high level of bureaucracy involved and difficulties for employers in managing government funded programmes. In addition, the recent overhaul in post-16 provision, with the private sector accounting for 40 per cent board representation on the new Learning and Skills Councils suggest that previous provision hasn't quite met their needs.


  5.1  The Employment Service (ES) has had to undergo a culture change since it took on New Deal and has made some steps to be more of an influence in the local labour market and working with local communities, rather than just "policing" the benefits system.

  5.2  However, the ES should train its existing staff and bring in professional expertise to ensure it is more pro-active in marketing their products to employers, particularly ethnic minority businesses. The marketing team should understand local labour market conditions and develop stronger relationships between employers and the unemployed, which is not the case in all Units of Delivery.

  5.3  In addition, the ES should direct more resources towards "Product Marketing" their services to employers and local communities. This should involve more face-to-face contact with clients and utilise senior black staff within the ES, particularly in working with employers and breaking-down stereotypes that they (employers) may hold.

  5.4  The Ethnic Minority Strategy for New Deal contains a number of useful tips for undertaking outreach work with local (ethnic minority) employers and the unemployed.


  6.1  There are two areas for consideration if the Intermediaries Fund is to be successful. The first is to break down big contracts into manageable chunks so those local organisations have the capacity to bid and tailor delivery to local circumstances. The second is to assess whether bidders have a strong track record in delivering to all "socially excluded" groups, including black communities.

  6.2  Positive Action is an area that is under-utilised and hence there should be a specific allocation within the mainstream budget for this. This would not only raise the profile of Positive Action but also see a wider range of organisations engaged in mainstream activities and ensure all providers improve the impact of their programme upon black communities.

  6.3  Targets for equal opportunities require a rationale and should be used to support the argument for Positive Action. Using more reliable data can enhance target setting and ensure service delivery has the desired impact upon those most in need. However, any target setting should be based on a baseline that will see meaningful results, eg not just the proportion of black communities in the population but also the proportion of the unemployed.

  6.4  There are a number of black-led projects (LEAP, Project Fullemploy and South Liverpool Personnel) that have evolved as intermediaries. The Fund should look to these organisations as models of good practice (ie what makes them work?) and build upon this through allocating resources towards the development of specialist black-led provision, particularly in areas where mainstream provision is failing to deliver to both local black communities and local employers.

  6.5  Sector-based intermediaries would have their advantages too, but this should be piloted in two or three sectors that historically have under-performed in terms of recruiting long-term unemployed people.


  7.1  The private sector enjoys a good relationship with employers and brings professional expertise/image to the delivery of labour market initiatives.

  7.2  However, two concerns remain. First, that private sector agencies would be more concerned in making a "quick profit" and furthering their own kudos than meeting a socio-economic need. The second reason is that private sector agencies may not be able to reconcile the skills-jobs mismatch as they may not have a thorough understanding of the local labour market and its communities.

  7.3  One way to overcome this would be for an equal partnership to be made, each sector working towards a shared delivery objective and focusing on their respective niche. In addition, secondments from local black organisations as senior advisers and front-line workers would give the private sector more credence and focus in its delivery.


  8.1  Black organisations are just as much of a role model as a personal mentor and raise the aspirations of the communities they serve just by their very existence. The government should actively engage black organisations in mainstream programmes, promote their activities as intermediaries to a wider audience and involve them in the strategic decision-making process.

  8.2  The Government should also encourage more senior professionals, as well as front-line workers, from all sectors to be involved in mentoring activities.

  8.3  Mentoring along is not enough to ensure long-term unemployed people stay and progress in work. They need to be empowered to take their career forward and hence all employers should work towards Investors in People/Business Excellence Model—monitoring should be more regular to ensure those most at risk in the work place are supported through pro-active personal and workforce development training.


July 2000

18   Black includes people of African, Caribbean, South Asian and South East Asian origin. Back

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