The proportion of ethnic workers with degrees is on the up. But there is still job and pay disparity in the workplace.


Let’s start with the good news. On the plus side, there has been a significant leap in the overall number of people gaining degrees. For white people, there has been an increase from 12% to 28% between the three-year survey periods of 1996-9 and 2014-17. Whilst ethnic minorities have increased from 12% to 30%. That’s all pretty positive.

However, what’s not so positive is the fact that this progress is not being translated into the workplace, with graduates of all BAME groups facing a jobs gap compared to white people with degrees.

Bangladeshi and Pakistani graduates are around 12 per cent less likely to be in work than white British graduates, and Indian and Black Caribbean graduates have a jobs gap of around five per cent.

What’s more the jobs gap for BAME graduates is actually bigger for young people (16-34 year olds) at 15 per cent, compared to 10.3 per cent for all working age adults.

It also showed that BAME graduates are likely to work in lower-paid occupations such as caring, leisure and sales jobs, and elementary occupations such as cleaners and security staff despite their increase in educational attainment. With Black African (25.2 per cent) and Bangladeshi (21.8 per cent) graduates being twice as likely to work in these low-paying occupations as Indian (12.6 per cent), white (10.6 per cent) and Chinese (8.7 per cent) graduates. This higher percentage of BAME graduates working in low-pay sectors is a key factor of the pay gap that affects almost all BAME groups.  The biggest graduate pay gap of 28% is between white men and Black African women, Pakistani women and Pakistani men. Whilst Chinese and Indian men outperform their white male counterparts (whose median hourly is £18.57).

And whilst there are inevitable gaps in the report (where it doesn’t drill down to acknowledge existing economic trends such as existing disparities between men and women and comparing these against ethnic groups to find out if it’s better, worse or the same), it’s findings like these that justify the government investing in research such as the Race Disparity Audit, which is due out. And will make for fascinating reading.

Kathleen Henehan, Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said, “The rising share of people going to university is a well known British success story of recent decades. The progress made by black and ethnic minority groups is astounding, with the share of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi graduates trebling in less than 20 years.

“But despite this success, graduates from a black and ethnic minority background still face significant employment and pay penalties in the workforce. These labour market disadvantages are a big living standards concern and mean we risk failing to make the most of the investment made in their education.

“The government is right to be exploring these and other significant race disparities. Understanding the extent and root causes of these disadvantages is an important step towards the far bigger challenge of tackling them.”

Thursday, 12 October 2017

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The proportion of ethnic workers with degrees is on the up. But there is still job and pay disparity in the workplace.