Most ethnic minority young people think race will impact job prospects, study finds

Experts say research is a ‘stark reminder’ of progress employers still need to make in addressing barriers some groups face

Young women and people from ethnic minority backgrounds still feel their gender and ethnicity are barriers when applying or interviewing for a job, research has found.

A poll of 1,000 young people, all aged between 16 to 21, found that 63 per cent of Black respondents and 50 per cent of Asian respondents believed their ethnicity could potentially impact their job prospects.

Almost half (45 per cent) of respondents who were of mixed race also felt the same.

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The same survey, conducted by BDO, also found that 45 per cent of women polled believed their gender was a potential issue when applying for a role, compared to just a quarter (26 per cent) of men.

Sarah Hillary, partner at BDO, said it was “hugely worrying” that young people today still saw their gender and ethnicity as potential barriers to work.

“This research serves as a stark reminder that there is still much progress and opportunities to drive forward,” she said, calling on employers to “address the long-standing barriers” that women and people from ethnic minorities face.

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“It’s crucial that businesses wake up to the efforts needed to attract talented young people from every corner of the UK,” Hillary said.

The research also looked at what employers could do to make themselves more attractive and inclusive to young people looking to do an apprenticeship or training programme.

Nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of all respondents said they would be more likely to apply to a company if they could see people similar to them working there already, increasing to 70 per cent for those from a Black background.

A similar percentage (65 per cent) said they would be more likely to do an apprenticeship or training programme with a business that has programmes targeted specifically to people like them.

Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, said the research highlighted the importance of employers evaluating their organisation’s culture and people management practices “to help attract and retain more people from ethnic minority backgrounds”.

“Organisations should review recruitment practices to ensure there is no bias or discrimination when decisions are made; this should include how and where people are recruited as well as consideration of whether the images and languages used in recruitment materials are inclusive,” he said. 

The poll also found that respondents from a lower socio-economic background were more likely to apply to a company that offered online-only applications or those that paid travel expenses for in-person interviews or assessment days.