Ethnic minority graduates 'twice as likely to be unemployed'

TUC analysis of the ONS Labour Force Survey highlights gap between BME and white workers

April 15, 2016
Word discrimination surrounded by pencils
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Black, Asian and minority ethnic graduates are two and a half times more likely to be unemployed than white degree-holders, according to the TUC.

In an analysis of the 2015 Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey, the trade union federation found that while the unemployment rate for white graduates was 2.3 per cent, 5.9 per cent of BME workers with degrees were unemployed.

This gap increased for those qualified to A level or equivalent, with the rate of unemployment rising to 14 per cent among BME workers, compared with 4.5 per cent for white workers.

For both groups, unemployment peaks for workers with entry-level skills. However, BME workers are 2.1 times more likely to be unemployed than white workers at this level, with an unemployment rate of almost 20 per cent.

Qualification level

White workers

BME workers


Unemployment rate

Unemployment rate

Multiple of white unemployment

All adults








and high-level vocational




A-level equivalent incl. trade apprenticeships, vocations and NVQ3




GCSE equivalent including basic vocations




Entry-level/basic skills








Source: ONS Labour Force Survey 2015

In response, the TUC is calling on the government to improve companies’ race equality practices in a variety of ways, including using anonymised job application forms across the public and private sectors.

It also wants the government to encourage employers to monitor recruitment proceses for discrimination against BME applicants and include staff ethnicity figures in annual reports.

In addition to having lower rates of employment, a TUC analysis revealed earlier this year, black workers with degrees are paid almost 25 per cent less than their white counterparts, equivalent to a gap of £4.33 per hour.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said that regardless of their level of education, “BAME workers have a much tougher time in the jobs market”.

“Not only is this wrong, but it is a huge waste of talent. Companies that only recruit from a narrow base are missing out on the wide range of experiences on offer from Britain’s many different communities,” she said.

She called on the government’s task force on racism to “make it harder for discriminating employers to get away with their prejudices, and also ensure that far more is done to improve access to the best courses and institutions for BAME young people”.

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