Creating opportunities for young people furthest away from advantage.
A significant body of research indicates systemic obstacles exist that disproportionately hinder black youth in England from accessing high-quality, secure jobs in adulthood compared to their white peers.
A 2021 report from the UK Parliament found that the unemployment rate for recent black graduates was over 12%, more than triple the 4% rate for recent white graduates (UK Parliament, 2021). The Trade Union Congress also analysed extensive data showing significantly higher unemployment across working-age black communities in the UK (TUC, 2020).
Factors Contributing to Inequality
Scholars have examined multiple factors pointing to societal and systemic factors that perpetuate racial inequalities in employment outcomes for black youths transitioning to high quality careers in England and the wider UK.
Discriminatory hiring practices have been frequently cited, with research showing resumes from applicants with white-sounding names receiving substantially more callbacks compared to equally qualified black candidates (Zwysen and Longhi, 2016). More subtle biases also affect black applicants' progress through recruitment processes (Booth et al., 2012). For example a lack of diversity in many professional fields and leadership roles also leads to fewer people within organizations advocating for and mentoring black youth (McGregor-Smith, 2017).
Once in roles, black employees report less access to career development opportunities, mentorship, and sponsorship to advance in companies compared to white colleagues (McGregor-Smith, 2017). This limits upward mobility.
Additionally, black students are more likely to come from lower socioeconomic status families and be the first in their families to attend university (Advance HE, 2018). This results in less access to the funds needed for extra training and qualifications and educational resources, industry connections, and familial guidance that facilitate entry into lucrative professions (Raffo and Reeves, 2000).
Geography also impacts access. Those from poorer neighbourhoods face greater barriers entering high-status careers (Tunstall et al., 2014). As black families in the UK remain disproportionately located in less affluent areas due to historical racism in housing policies, locality can compound disadvantage (Runnymede Trust, 2017).
The Social Mobility Commission found career prospects for youth were hampered by growing up in deprived areas with weak local labor markets and few connections to employers in economically vibrant industries (Social Mobility Commission, 2016). Data indicates black families in the UK remain concentrated in such lower income neighborhoods. In London for instance, 70% of people identifying as Black African live in the 20% most deprived boroughs (Runnymede Trust, 2017).
Initiatives and Solutions
Research points to initiatives that could improve black youths' employment outcomes:
While promising programmes exist, scholars emphasize comprehensive anti-racist policies across education and employment are vital to dismantle barriers and improve economic outcomes for black youth in England (Saran, 2021). Progress remains slow, indicating significant work is still required to enable equal access to quality careers.
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