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Last Updated: Friday, 9 December 2005, 07:27 GMT
Employment deficit 'largely gone'
The religious imbalance in the NI workplace has "largely disappeared"
The imbalance between Protestants and Catholics in the NI workplace has largely disappeared, according to the latest Equality Commission figures.

The commission's Bob Collins said Catholics were still under-represented in some areas such as security.

Protestants were under-represented in health and education sectors, he added.

Mr Collins also said there were concerns about educational under-achievement among Protestants in disadvantaged areas, particularly boys.

The report looked at 495,817 employees and covered the 12 months of 2004.

Mr Collins said it was important to put the changes in the workplace into context.

"During 2004, a growth of Protestant employment in the public sector was offset by a decline in private sector jobs, most notably in the manufacturing industry, where Protestants were traditionally strongly represented," he said.

'Fair participation'

"In that sector, between the 2003 and 2004 monitoring reports, a net loss of 4,092 full-time employees occurred, of which 78.3% were Protestants."

He said educational achievement was directly connected to employment potential.

"There are concerns that under-attainment in this regard is a real problem in socially disadvantaged areas - particularly for boys and especially for Protestant boys," he said.

"Linked to this is the issue of undergraduate migration out of Northern Ireland, and, in this regard, also those leaving are disproportionately Protestant.

"These issues merit the serious attention of all those involved in, and with an interest in, public policy and the commission will actively engage in that process."

Mr Collins said the key concern was fair participation and equality.

"That is relevant to everyone in Northern Ireland, and it merits careful consideration, both of the overall patterns and of the detail of different sectors and firms," he said.

"Achievements should be acknowledged, but nobody can be satisfied or complacent while inequalities still exist."

Workforce 'more fairly split'
10 Dec 04 |  Northern Ireland
Fair employment laws 'a success'
09 Nov 04 |  Northern Ireland
Protestant workers 'face discrimination'
16 Mar 04 |  Northern Ireland

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