Ethnic minorities, employment and social mobility: see the research findings

Ethnic Minority

Britain’s ethnic minorities are facing barriers to social mobility and job opportunities, according to a findings from a report by the University of Manchester that will be presented to the House of Lords in a meeting sponsored by Baroness Prashar on Thursday.

Despite levels of educational attainment improving significantly for ethnic minorities, the authors of the report state that it has not translated into improved outcomes in the labour market.

The report, published by the Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity at the University of Manchester, brings together the centre’s research on education and employment, based on census analysis of ethnic groups, and a considerable number of longitudinal surveys of individual experiences of social mobility.

Chinese, Indian, Irish, Bangladeshi and black African students are outperforming their white British peers in obtaining five or more GCSEs at grade A* to C, says the report, while all black and ethnic minority (BME) groups have seen significant improvement in access to degree level qualifications.

Just under 5% of Bangladeshi people were recorded as having a degree level qualification in the 1991 Census – by 2011, the figure had reached almost 20%. The chart above shows the percentage of people with a degree level qualification by ethnic group.

Researchers found that although ethnic minorities have experienced growth in clerical, professional and managerial employment, they are still facing “significant barriers to enjoying the levels of social mobility of their white British peers”.

The report also looks at labour market figures. The graphic below shows the percentage of economically active people, by ethnic group, that were in full time employment , part-time employment, self-employment or unemployed, as reported in the 2011 Census data. The figures include those aged between 25 and 49 years-old.

Key findings from the study are:
  • Black African and black Caribbean women have experienced a 15-20% fall in full-time employment rates over the past decade, while those for white women have remained stable
  • 39% of Bangladeshi women and 35% of men work part-time, double the levels of two decades ago
  • 53% of self-employed Pakistani men work in the transport industry compared to 8% of the rest of the population
  • The rates of part-time employment for Chinese and Indian men have doubled in the last ten years
  • Surveys of young British Muslim women have highlighted how employer discrimination has been a significant barrier to employment for those who wear the hijab and niqab notwithstanding their high levels of graduate and post-graduate qualifications

The study also presents new research on some on Britain’s largest longitudinal studies. Professors Anthony Heath and Yaojun Li looked at 40 years of data to define rates of social mobility through identifying the percentage who moved up or down from the occupational class of their father.

They found that 43% of white men and 45.6% white women moved up to a higher socio-economic class than their father and that in contrast, first generation black African, Indian and Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups had significantly lower upward mobility rates. Just 34.3% of first generation Pakistani and Bangladeshi men and 27.6% of Pakistani and Bangladeshi women moved up from the socio-economic class of their father.

Variations in mobility by gender were also noted by researchers: black Caribbean men (39.3%) and Chinese women (46.8%) were found to experience lower rates of upward mobility than black Caribbean women (67.3%) or Chinese men (56.9%). The study also showed that for second generation south-Asian groups, men had benefitted more from upward occupational mobility than women.

Source: – to see graphical statistics, please click on this link



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