Ethnic minorities are losing out in the battle for jobs and have a less equal chance of securing quality employment than some other groups, according to a new report.
An analysis of the jobs market by the Resolution Foundation, a centre-left think tank, found that closing sub-regional employment gaps is central to reaching ‘full employment’, and this would mean supporting 150,000 more people from ethnic minorities into work.
There are wide regional differences in employment levels for ethnic minority groups, with some parts of the country fairing worse than other regions such as London and the South East.
The employment gap between the best and worst performing sub-regions of the UK for all working-aged people is 11%, but this more than doubles to 26% for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people.
The Resolution Foundation analysed employment gaps in 20 areas across the UK, including city and rural sub-regions, and found that BAME employment is greatest in Scotland with an employment rate of 74%.
According to their analysis, the North East of England is the worst performing region in the UK for BAME employment, with an employment rate of just 48%.
Bringing sub-regions inline with better performing areas of the country would require a halving of the regional BAME employment rate gap from 26% to 14%, the Resolution Foundation says.
The employment rate for all working age adults in the UK currently stands at 73%, but this drops to just 62% for working age BAME people – an 11 percentage point gap.
Ethic minorities are more likely to experience barriers to employment such as single motherhood or being low skilled.
Addressing unemployment among ethnic minority groups is central to achieving full employment in the UK, the Resolution Foundation says, regarded by many experts as an unemployment rate of 5.0% and below.
The overall UK employment rate for the 3 months ending October 2015 was highest in the South West (78.1%) and lowest in Northern Ireland (68.4%), according to statistics published by the Office for National Statistics. The unemployment rate was 5.2%.
The report concludes that sharing the benefits of economic growth will help to drive up demand for workers, and greater support should also be targeted at unemployed BAME people.
Laura Gardiner, Senior Research and Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation said: “The UK’s performance on jobs has been one of the biggest success stories in recent years, resulting in more people in work than ever before.
“But substantial weaknesses remain for certain groups such as ethnic minority people, who have lower employment rates overall and experience even greater penalties in the worst-performing areas.
“Achieving full employment, which the Chancellor is right to target, must involve addressing the issues that prevent ethnic minority groups from entering or staying in work, and ensuring they have an equal chance of securing a quality job no matter where they live.
“The government needs to set the right economic conditions, alongside pulling the right policy levers that stimulate job creation and encourage people to join the workforce.
“The involvement of local partnerships in commissioning the successor to the Work Programme will be an early opportunity to ensure that the needs of ethnic minority groups are met.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions told Sky News that employment levels among ethnic minorities “is at a record rate”.
He added: “The diversity of this country means we tailor support to individuals, rather than simply defining people’s needs by their ethnicity.”