Employment opportunities for Muslims in the UK Contents



1.There are 2.7 million Muslim people in the UK. Key to understanding the complexity of Muslim communities in the UK is recognising their diversity. This diversity encompasses everyone from recent migrants struggling to access effective English language classes, to young people from the second and third generations to live in the UK who are building on the aspirations of their parents and looking to study at the top universities in the UK. It includes a wide range of ethnicities: 38% of all Muslims are of Pakistani origin, 15% Bangladeshi, 14% other Asian, 10% Black, 6.6% Arab1, 4.8% ‘other white’ (e.g. Turkish, Turkish Cypriot, or Bosnian), and 2.9% describe themselves as white British.2

2.We launched this inquiry because out of all religious and ethnic groups, Muslims experience the highest levels of disadvantage in the labour market. They have the highest unemployment rates (12.8% in 2015).3 Muslim men and women also experience the greatest pay gaps when compared with those who identify as Christian4; 16.5% and 22.4% respectively.5

3.The level of disadvantage is particularly acute for Muslim women. They are 71% more likely than white Christian women to be unemployed, even when they have the same educational level and language skills.6 As well as suffering the disadvantages of Muslim men relating to employment opportunities, some women also face pressures from their communities around education and employment choices, and particular issues of discrimination within the workplace around dress.

Our inquiry

4.This report makes recommendations to tackle the substantial pockets of disadvantage that exist. At the same time, as a Committee we want to recognise that no single narrative can properly describe the lives and experiences of a community of nearly 2.7 million people. Our hope is that this report provides an analysis which both underlines the positive contributions of Muslims across the UK, and recognises the urgent need to make equality of opportunity a reality for people of every faith and background.

5.In the next chapter we consider the overall context of the Government’s approach to integration and opportunity. We then consider four key areas in tackling barriers to equal employment opportunities for Muslims in the UK: supporting the aspirations of Muslim women, widening access to university; providing effective support to work; and tackling workplace discrimination.

6.The Census has included a question on religion since 2001; in other data collection, it tends to be the case that data is collected on ethnicity. This lack of data makes analysis by faith hard (see Chapter 3). In this report where data is only available by ethnicity, we have, with some caution, taken Pakistani and Bangladeshi as a proxy for those of Muslim faith.

7.Our inquiry was launched in January 2016; the terms of reference are annexed to this report. We received 31 written submissions from individuals and organisations. During the course of the inquiry we also held four oral evidence sessions, as well as one informal briefing. Our witnesses included representatives from Muslim organisations such as the Muslim Council of Britain, Faith Matters, and people from community groups, others from academia and university organisations, and three Government ministers. We also visited the University of Bedfordshire in Luton and met with female Muslim students and alumni from the University, and representatives from UpRising, a charity which runs youth empowerment and employability programmes.

8.We are grateful to all those who engaged with our inquiry and would like to thank them for their invaluable input. We are very grateful to our Specialist Advisors, Farah Elahi from the Runnymede Trust and Fiyaz Mughal OBE7, Director of Tell MAMA, for their help and guidance throughout the inquiry.

1 In 2011, the Census question on ethnicity was amended to add an ‘Arab’ option.

2 British Religion in Numbers, Census 2011: Muslims in Britain, 8 June 2013

3 Department for Work and Pensions (supplementary evidence) (MIE0036)

4 The research used Christian men as the reference group, as representing the majority religion.

5 Equality and Human Rights Commission, Research Report 9: Pay Gaps Across Equalities Areas, 2008, para 3.6

6 Muslim women much more likely to be unemployed than white Christian women, University of Bristol press release, 15 April 2015

7 Fiyaz Mughal was previously a member of the Anti Muslim Hatred Working Group, which is discussed later in this Report, and resigned in 2013.

© Parliamentary copyright 2015

3 August 2016