Page last updated at 16:09 GMT, Friday, 19 December 2008

Job prospects fall for minorities

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Students' ethnicity apparently affects career aspirations

The employment prospects for men from ethnic minorities have worsened, according to research carried out by academics in Manchester and Oxford.

The researchers found in the 1970s men from ethnic minority backgrounds had almost as much chance of finding work as their white counterparts.

But by 2005 the job prospects of black and Asian men had fallen "well behind" the white population.

The academics said the study was based on very large government data sets.

Professor Anthony Heath from the University of Oxford, said: "When the economy goes into a recession people from ethnic minorities seem to be hardest hit.

Black Caribbean men and the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities seem to suffer the most
Prof Anthony Heath

"In the early 1990s recession ethnic minority unemployment rates were getting up to between 25% to 30%.

"That was three times the rate for white British men.

"But when near-full employment returned, the gap narrowed. Although ethnic minority rates are still around double that of white men.

"Black Caribbean men and the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities seem to suffer the most."

The study shows Pakistani and Bangladeshi men began turning to self-employment from the early 1990s.

"Working for themselves was perhaps as an escape strategy," said Professor Heath.

Equality Bill

Professor Yaojun Li from the University of Manchester, said: "The socio-economic position of the minority ethnic groups affects not only their own well-being, but the future status of the country as a major player in an ever-increasing globalised world.

"One thing I have been trying to tell government is that the situation for ethnic minority communities is not getting better.

"The government needs to take action if it is to be addressed."

Professor Heath has joined the Department for Work and Pensions' Ethnic Minorities Advisory Group.

"A new Equality Bill announced in the recent Queen's Speech will help," he said.

"But my general feeling is probably that rather more robust action needs to be taken."

The researchers said the data sets analysed were from "the most authoritative" of government surveys, run by the Office of National Statistics.

Their analysis was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

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