The government must make greater efforts to improve employment prospects for Britain’s ethnic minorities if it is to hit its goal of creating two million new jobs by the end of the parliament without relying on immigration, a leading think tank has warned.
Across the UK, the employment rate among ethnic minorities is 11 percentage points lower than the overall population, the Resolution Foundation said. In large parts of northeast England, less than half of ethnic minority Britons were said to have a job.
Employment among skilled, white Britons aged between 30 and 49 is already very high, at 93.5 per cent, suggesting that the government will have to target less well-employed groups such as ethnic minorities, the young, the old and the disabled to meet its target.
The northeast, outside Tyne and Wear, is the region with the lowest proportion of ethnic minority people aged 16 to 64 in work, at only 47.5 per cent, compared with a national employment rate of 73.1 per cent, Resolution said.
Overall, 3.28 million ethnic minority people in the UK are in work and the employment rate is 61.7 per cent, 11.4 percentage points lower than the national average. By raising all regions into line with the average of three of the best — the east, southeast and southwest — would increase employment among black, Asian and minority ethnic groups by 150,000, Resolution said.
Laura Gardiner, the senior research and policy analyst at Resolution, said: “The UK’s performance on jobs has been one of the biggest success stories in recent years, 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.”
The think tank said that the government should ensure “growth is as widely shared as possible” across the country.
Companies are more gloomy about employment prospects for the year ahead than at any point since 2012. A third of managers polled by the Chartered Management Institute expect to cut staff levels in 2016.