Historic England has come under fire for advertising eight paid training placements exclusively for black and ethnic minority candidates.
It says the placements will give recent graduates the chance to ‘learn new skills in the heritage sector while receiving a training bursary of £300-350 per week’.
But the placements drew heavy criticism on Twitter, with some expressing disappointment and others threatening to cancel their memberships to participating organisations.
Peter Istrate wrote: “I’m a minority immigrant, and I still believe this is racist. I came to this country hoping that people of all races, backgrounds, etc. will be treated equally. I’m very disappointed to find out they’re not.”
Iena Touqan wrote: “I have cancelled my membership due to your discriminatory policy on recruitment,” while Scottm295 wrote: “Disgraceful. I am all for encouraging BAMEs but excluding whites altogether is just outright racist.”
The move aims to give Swindon-based Historic England a staff make-up more reflective of the wider population.
In March 2016 a government white paper challenged the organisation to have a workforce which better represented the ethnic diversity of the UK.
In 2016/17 only 4.3 per cent of its workforce described themselves as black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME).
A spokesperson for Historic England said: “The initiative is part of a suite of training and employment initiatives that we are working on to attract people from all backgrounds. These include apprenticeships and post-graduate training. The Heritage Training Places scheme is the one that is specifically aimed at people of BAME heritage.”
Sandra Stancliffe, head of education and inclusion at Historic England, added: “Many participants on last year’s scheme were surprised at the enormous rage of jobs people do in Historic England – everything from creating artist’s impressions of archaeological sites to researching funding opportunities and advising local people how look after their buildings.”
First Published 10.04.18: http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/16148208.Criticism_for_BAME_only_placements/