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


Memoranda from Commission for Racial Equality


  The Commission for Racial Equality was established under the Race Relations Act 1976, with duties to work towards the elimination of racial discrimination and to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups; and to keep the working of the Act under review.

  There is clear evidence from national surveys and analysis of general data sources, such as the Labour Force Survey which highlight a number of areas in which people from ethnic minority groups experience inequalities in access to, and outcomes from, learning skills development. There is also significant evidence that ethnic minority job seekers experience higher levels of unemployment than white peope.

  Current statistics give a profile of differential participation and outcomes for the country's ethnic minority communities when compared with white communties. Key points include:

    —  Ethnic minority unemployment rates are more than twice those for white people, with particularly high rates for young people and some communities;

    —  This gap remains at each level of qualification. For those with degree or higher level qualifications 11 per cent of black, 6 per cent of Asian and 3 per cent of white people were unemployed; at A level—17 per cent, 14 per cent and 5 per cent respectively (LFS Spring `97). It is unclear why ethnic minority groups do not benefit fully from their qualifications;

    —  Among young people, 24 per cent of all ethnic minorities were unemployed compared with 13 per cent white young people. For Afro-Caribbean the rate was 34 per cent (LFS Spring 1997);

    —  Ethnic minority people in work are under represented at higher levels and over represented among the less well paid grades. Access to a number of sectors is very limited;

    —  In job related training, young white employees were twice as likely to have received job related training than ethnic minority employees (LFS 97—previous four weeks);

    —  Among Youth Trainees, ethnic minority groups are less likely to obtain jobs and qualifications after training. They are seriously under represented among Modern Apprentices, particularly in traditional and "craft" sectors;

    —  Ethnic minority men and women are more likely to study further after school: 25 per cent compared with 15 per cent of white people go on to further forms of education;

    —  School achievement rates vary between different groups and in different subjects, with black young people least likely to obtain five GCSEs at A-C grade;

    —  Black Caribbean school children/students were five times more likely to face permanent exclusion in 95/6 than white young people;

    —  The LFS data on qualifications shows that the Chinese and Indian groups are the closest to white groups in their overall educational profiles (Spring 1998);

    —  In 1997, the CRE carried out a testing exercise in the North of England and Scotland to investigate the extent of racial discrimination in the youth employment market. Young testers of different ethnic backgrounds were asked to apply for jobs to see if their ethnicity made any difference to their application. Responding to jobs advertised in local newspapers, and applying in person to shops and businesses highlighted individual examples of blatant and casual discrimination. Even though all of the testers had the same qualifications, Asians found it three times as hard to get an interview, and African Caribbeans five times as hard compared to white candidates.

  The CRE believes that it is crucial to develop measures to address the continuing inequalities faced by those groups who have been excluded from the full benefits of education, training and employment. The Commission's experience, supported by research into compliance with the CRE's Code of Practice, shows that where employers tackle the causes of under-representation of ethnic minority people as applicants, significant improvements can take place (Are Employers Complying, 1989, CRE). Such action includes changing selection criteria and monitoring decisions, training for managers and setting clear targets, and where necessary training to remedy skills or experience gaps amongst applicants.

  However, only a minority of employers have taken the necessary steps to improve recruitment, selection and adequate, or appropriate training for career progression. A recent report by the TUC highlights the impact of institutional racism in the workplace on the career prospects of black and Asian workers (Black and Excluded, 2000, TUC). The report concludes that in spite of the increasing numbers of ethnic minority employees gaining high level qualifications, there was no improvement in career progression. It also showed that many ethnic minority employees take part-time jobs because of difficulties finding full-time employment.

What can the Employment Service do to promote the recruitment of unemployed people?

  The Employment Service and other major players should ensure that resources are deployed to support such priorities as the social inclusion agenda and assistance for those who are disadvantaged. Employers, training and careers guidance providers need to be alert to the impact of unlawful disrimination, and unconscious direct discrimination as well as the possibility of deliberate acts of unfair treatment. Ethnic monitoring of employee and trainees profiles should help to identify barriers that affect the ability of ethnic minority young people to participate fully in all stages of education, training and employment.

  Recently, the CRE supported the Employment Service to mainstream racial equality in all areas of its work and programmes. The ES was urged to apply a consistent framework of racial equality/equal opportunities principles and measures to ensure that individuals receive fair treatment. Examples of initiatives included:

    —  Appropriate training and guidance for staff;

    —  Procedures for identifying, investigating and dealing with cases of instructions or pressure to discriminate;

    —  Effective mechanisms for ensuring that output based systems do not lead to unfair treatment;

    —  Monitoring of access to and impact of service provision by ethnic origin.

  In order to assess progress in main service areas, annual reports should be produced by each Employment Service region on key performance indicators, including:

    —  Job outcomes;

    —  The extent to which particular development and support needs have been met;

    —  Work in challenging employer discrimination;

    —  Measures to ensure fair treatment and equal access for progression into the Employment New Deal option.

The Learning and Skills Council

  The Learning and Skills Council will need to ensure equality of opportunity in learning and employment both at national and local levels. It will be important to address those inequalities which have been most ingrained in learning and training provision over the past decade. These should include:

    —  examining why there has been an under representation of ethnic minorities in many areas of employer linked training, including Modern Apprenticeships;

    —  inequalities in particular subject areas and NVQ levels and uneven participation in learning and training provision overall;

    —  In FE where ethnic minority participation rates are generally high, it is important that issues of access to types of course and subject as well as outcome are addressed;

    —  Comprehensive ethnic monitoring systems would enable more complete assessments to be made of the position of ethnic minorities in the full range of post 16 training and learning provision and to identify issues such as whether genuine choice, or perceived barriers, are the cause of under representation in some learning routes and over representation in others;

    —  It may also be possible to develop remedial measures, including positive action under relevant legislation to be taken where under representation is particularly significant.

Welfare to Work

  Since May 1988, the Government has published monthly statistics on the numbers starting, taking part in and leaving the New Deal for Young People. The key figures and emerging trends indicate:

    —  People from ethnic minorities are less likely to have moved onto options ie they are still on the gateway;

    —  Ethnic minority groups are the least likely to move onto the employer option. By ethnic group, Africans are the least likely to be on the employer option, and Indians the most likely;

    —  People from ethnic minority groups are the most likely to be on the full-time education and training options;

    —  Ethnic minority young people leaving the Gateways are less likely to have left for unsubsidises jobs in comparison to their white counterparts.

(Source: DfEE Statistical Release 1999)

  In supporting people to secure employment, New Deal should introduce positive action measures, together with a clear strategy for tackling racial discrimination in training and employment. Measures are needed to ensure that the potential influence of employer discrimination and/or the need for particular support are addressed within the advisory/Gateway period. Furthermore, equal opportunity policies should be a contractual requirement across all elements of local delivery. In particular, the staffing involved in delivering programmes should reflect the ethnic diversity of the clientele, and ethnic minority organisations/training providers should be involved in all aspects of planning and delivery of programmes.

Recruitment Agencies

  The DTI should build into the regulations for employment agencies specific requirement to carry out their functions without racial discrimination and to adopt measures that work seekers are provided with equal treatment and opportunity, which includes challenging employer discrimination. This is essential within a sector in which there is evidence of continuing discriminatory instructions from employers in which the practices of recruitment agencies in anticipating or dealing with such discrimination have a major influence.

As part of this all agencies should be required to:

    —  Operate an equal opportunities policy which incorporates a race equality policy;

    —  Adopt procedures for challenging and dealing with clients who discriminate, including withdrawal of services and reporting cases to the CRE;

In addition agencies should:

    —  take steps to ensure that their applicant base fully reflects the population area they serve, including, for example:

    —  producing literature in a variety of languages to encourage ethnic minority applicants;


April 2000

previous page contents

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 7 February 2001