Minister Visits Manchester-Based Scheme Successfully Tackling Race Disparity In Employment

  • Rochdale Mentoring Scheme launched to tackle race disparity among younger people in Greater Manchester
  • Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster David Lidington welcomes scheme, as the government reiterates calls for businesses to “change or explain” their race disparities
  • The scheme highlights the positive impact many UK employers can make to tackle this vital issue

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, David Lidington, was in Rochdale today to visit an innovative scheme helping to address the disparities in employment opportunities for young people of ethnically diverse backgrounds in the Greater Manchester area. This scheme is jointly delivered by DWP and Business in the Community.

The Minister met local job-seekers and large employers from Fujitsu, Mitie and the Royal Air Force at the Rochdale JobCentre Plus to hear about the success of their mentoring circle in helping young people to understand and access labour market opportunities, and what employers are looking for.

54 percent of ethnic minority working age adults in Rochdale are employed, compared with 66 per cent of their white counterparts. Nearby Manchester is one of twenty BME employment “challenge areas” across the country, identified as part of the Race Disparity Audit. These are the areas with the largest BME employment gap, and highest BME populations.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, David Lidington, said:

“As the Prime Minister made clear, we want to challenge businesses to “explain or change” disparities in their workforces.

“This scheme in Rochdale is taking active steps to address the imbalance in the local labour market, with the help of some of the nation’s largest employers. We want to see more companies like Fujitsu and Mitie, and organisations such as the Royal Air Force, taking on this challenge and helping to change lives in a positive way.

“Speaking to the local job seekers here today taking part in these mentoring circles, I can see firsthand this is making a real difference – and I would like to see more young people taking up this support.”

Race Equality Director, Business in the Community, Sandra Kerr OBE, said:

“Unemployed Mentoring Circles are a great way to encourage employers to engage with young people in their local communities and raise awareness of their industry and application and interview processes. With twice as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic young people not in employment, education or training compared to their white counterparts, schemes like this are vital for helping to boost employment and ensure that UK employers reflect the customers, clients and communities they serve. We’ve already had great success with previous Mentoring Circles, including in Brixton where 70 out of 90 young people taking part found work within six months, and are delighted to be partnering with the Department for Work and Pensions again to pilot these circles around the UK.”

Reena Chawla – Co-Chair (Cultural Diversity Network) Fujitsu, said:

“As the Cultural Diversity Co-Chair for Fujitsu, I’m really proud that we are involved  with the ‘mentoring circle’ .  Talking to some of the people involved in our first  mentoring session and finding out how valuable they found it has been truly inspiring.  I think it’s such an important scheme that more companies should get involved as giving people the confidence and the tool set to ultimately find employment is so rewarding.”

Fida Isaji, Chair of the Kaleidoscope network – BAME Network – Mitie PLC, said:

“Mitie does a lot of work around diversity and inclusion through our Kaleidoscope forum, so we were really keen to get involved with the DWP initiative. Speaking to the mentees within the mentoring circles allows us to provide hands on and tailored advice to support them in their next steps. We’re really passionate about it and as personally I had the same challenges when finding my first role in finance. This guidance would have been invaluable so I can see its relevance and importance to young people from a BAME background.”

Group Captain Will Dole Head of RAF Recruitment and Selection said:

“During our 100 year history, the RAF has strived to be representative of the nation that we serve, recruiting from all of society we derive our strength and unity from our diversity. Irrespective of an individual’s background, we continue to select our people based on merit and offer opportunities to all to meet their potential and realise their ambitions”.

This month mentoring circles have begun in London, Birmingham and Greater Manchester. The first mentoring circle in Rochdale was delivered on 20 June to a group of fifteen BME young people aged 18-24. It was facilitated by Fujitsu, Mitie and the Royal Air Force. Two further mentoring circles will be delivered in Rochdale over the next few weeks. Mentoring circles in all the BME challenge areas will take place across the summer.

Written By: Karl Smith

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