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Dismal employment stats for Black youth in UK

By Trevon Muhammad | Last updated: Apr 5, 2017 - 11:19:10 AM

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LONDON—Education has long been hailed as the key to overcoming racism and social inequality but with official UK government statistics showing Black youth are still as likely to be unemployed as they were 20 years ago, despite a significant increase in educational participation; some of Black Britain’s leading educators are calling for the Black community to take responsibility for the future of up and coming generations.

According to statistics provided by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), no ethnic minority group have increased their participation in further education more than Black people over the past 20 years and there are now more young Black people in education (61 percent) proportionately than any other ethnic group aside from those of Chinese descent.

However, despite being twice as likely to be in full-time education as their White counterparts, Black people between the ages of 16 and 24 remain twice as unlikely to be unemployed as White people— just as they were two decades ago.

Black university graduates are also twice as likely as Whites to be unemployed six months after graduating and those employed are often unsuccessful in rising to prominent positions within their professions.

Recently, the number of head teachers from Black and so-called ethnic minority (BME) backgrounds was described as “scandalously low” with official figures showing only six percent of the nation’s head teachers coming from BME backgrounds with just 0.5 percent of these being from Black Caribbean backgrounds.

An investigation into inequalities within the National Health Service (NHS) found that Black doctors were three times less likely to be picked for senior hospital jobs than White doctors. The investigation, conducted by prominent medical journal, The BMJ, found only 4.8 percent of applicants to senior doctor roles from ethnic minority backgrounds were successful in 2012 compared to a success rate of almost 14 percent  for White doctors.

Meanwhile, only one of the top 100 companies on the London Stock Exchange, insurance giant Prudential, has a Black chief executive. Tidjane Thiam became the first Black CEO of a FTSE company in 2009.  These statistics combined with long standing racial disparities across the criminal justice and health care systems have led many to question what it will take to improve the fortunes of Black youth in the UK.

Prominent educator and youth worker, Trevor Hakim, says Black people, particularly young men, are the victims of institutional racism throughout society and believes it’s time for the community to take responsibility for educating and creating opportunities for Black youth, if they are to succeed in such a hostile environment.

“Just as they are in America, Black males especially those from Afro-Caribbean backgrounds are at the very bottom when it comes to employment, especially when it comes to careers of major significance in society such as teachers, lawyers and doctors—we’re underrepresented.”

“We have to come together, invest in our youth and give them a true knowledge of themselves,” says Trevor Hakim. Knowledge of self, he stresses, is the foundation on which success is built upon.

“Having knowledge of self is key because it not only tells you who you are, but it also tells you who you’re not. It gives you meaning and a sense of purpose so you know what vision you’re supposed to be fulfilling and you’re able to be successful regardless of the opposition you face,” he added.

Mark Simpson, co-founder of Black History Studies, a social enterprise which provides tours and educational courses in Black history, shares a similar view.

“It’s easy to blame our youth for the condition they’re in today but the main reason they are in such a condition is because those of us who are doing the blaming did not set a foundation for them. We have to invest in them, build a foundation for them and show them real examples of positive progress,” says Mr. Simpson.

“Then the youth will naturally follow but we have to play our role and fulfil our responsibilities to them as adults.”