On the 7th of December I attended BTEG’s third and final ‘Inspire and Challenge’ lecture marking the charity’s 25th anniversary. The lecture, at SOAS University of London, highlighted the difficulties experienced by young BAME people in the education system and employment compared with the far fewer barriers that young white people face.
Jeremy Crook OBE, BTEG’s Chief Executive opened with an eye-opening presentation of the current statistics regarding young BAME people’s lack of notable success in higher education and employment compared to white people. Some of the statistics highlighted included:
Guest speakers Femi Bola MBE, of the University of East London and Dr Sham Qayyum, of SOAS, detailed the ways in which educational institutions can equip ethnic minorities to succeed in the local and global workforce, as well as the effects of recent political events such as Brexit and the rise of right wing populism.
BAME people have always had a conscious awareness of our limited successes in higher education and employment and our underrepresentation in various sectors has always been apparent. Yet, as a young South Asian person, the substantial data – collected over several years – that irrefutably backs up that awareness is still incredibly disheartening. It is no wonder that BAME people leave college and university with a negative outlook of our chances of success in the job market, and the stereotypes that have inhibited us throughout our academic lives also do so in employment.
As young white people already have the statistical advantage of gaining professional positions right out of university it is all the more necessary for young BAME people take the initiative and responsibility to be aware of all potential opportunities available to us in the job market. Enhancing practical skills and a willingness to pursue entrepreneurial career paths is important, but it is also essential that we encourage strong self-belief and resilience both personally and within our communities.
To be clear, the onus of being responsible for our success is not entirely on us. As Femi Bola reiterated, schools and colleges have a responsibility to better prepare BAME students going into university for the challenges they will face. We are not walking the same paths as our parents, many of whom have had their own preferred visions of what their children should do with their lives. Schools and colleges need to work with BAME parents to help them to encourage their children to pursue their own ambitions and not fall into a spiral of regret by the end of their academic career.
Racism, and the unwillingness to increase awareness of racial discrimination on part of educational institutions, must be called out. Schools, colleges and universities have an obligation to scrutinise their own institutions to ensure young BAME people’s academic success is not hampered due to racism among staff and the student body, as well as take the initiative to give BAME students the tools and awareness to tackle discrimination in education, as well as the job market.
I have just completed, on behalf of BTEG, a 21 day secondment at the Big Lottery Fund. I spent time in Birmingham, London and Newcastle with staff from the Fund.
21 days doesn’t sound like much time but it was over a six month period, with a specific focus.
Earlier in the year, the Fund offered the opportunity for a Skills Swap. It enabled staff at the Fund to spend time with Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) organisations to find out more about how they operate.
The Fund was undertaking a range of equalities work across the organisation so, in addition, the Fund invited a BAMER organisation to consider working with them, providing a ‘critical friend’ view of how they make decisions around awarding grants on their Awards for All and Reaching Communities programme and to give an external perspective on grants that BAMER-led organisations typically apply for and to offer recommendations on whether improvements could be made.
The secondment would be an opportunity for the Fund to be challenged on its assumptions and processes to see where it could be more inclusive in awarding its grants.
The secondment was offered via the BAMER Cross Funder Alliance Group. BTEG decided to apply as we were interested in supporting the Fund to be as inclusive as they could be, and to increase the number of high quality applications and the number of grants being awarded to BAMER-led organisations.
Has BTEG’s input made a difference?
BTEG shared its thoughts on how the Fund can extend its reach to engage and have open and transparent conversations with BAMER-led groups. We offered recommendations around capturing, recording and using local intelligence – with a view to improving success rates for BAMER-led organisations. Also, we provided the Fund with a viewpoint on the challenges faced by BAMER-led organisations as they try to navigate their way through the funding application process.
Staff at the Fund were left with lots of ideas to consider to take forward their equalities work and further support BAMER-led organisations. The secondment, and our own experiences of applying for funding, also means we can feed back through our networks how organisations can better position themselves to apply for funding and strengthen their applications.
Could this be replicated by other Funders?
This approach could definitely be replicated by other funders. BTEG will be reporting back to the Cross Funder Alliance about the secondment and how this could happen.
Both BTEG and the Big Lottery Fund found this experience beneficial for them and useful to organisations more widely. Having an organisation with a race equality background can provide the perspective a funder needs to honestly critique how inclusive it is when awarding grants.
Any such secondment would need to be entered into with a true spirit of collaboration, with both organisations being clear on what they hope to get out it.
Other things to consider would be:
Ensuring the right fit between organisation and secondee – an informal face to face chat is essential
Being very specific about what the remit is/what the secondee should focus on…
…whilst being flexible about how this is undertaken
Identifying from the start what are the expected outputs and outcomes
Arranging for the secondee to be part of the host organisation’s induction and making them truly feel as though they are a part of the organisation
Having a named person, at a senior level in the organisation, to champion the work and open doors if need be
Having a person in the organisation to organise logistics (meetings, travel, booking rooms, sorting expenses etc.)
For more information, contact Indra Pooran firstname.lastname@example.org
`London’s a great city but certain things need to change and opportunities made available to everyone regardless if you are rich or poor or black or white’
All London Voices was a consultation project led by BTEG on behalf of the Coalition of Race Equality Organisations (CORE) and was funded by a grant from Trust for London. Ahead of the London mayoral election in May 2016, it aimed to find what young BAME (black Asian and minority ethnic) Londoners thought the new Mayor’s priorities should be. A final report was launched in July 16.
On the 13 October CORE and BTEG, with support from the Mayor’s Young Advisors Team, held an event at City Hall which presented and discussed the report's findings. Deputy Mayors Joanne McCartney and Matthew Ryder addressed the audience.
Joanne McCartney is Sadiq Khan’s Deputy Mayor for Education and Childcare and talked about the administration’s commitment to addressing inequality and ensuring all communities get fair access to opportunities in London.
Matthew Ryder is a leading human rights lawyer and QC, and the Deputy Mayor for social integration and social mobility. He spoke about the need to do more to hear the voices of young people and communities to inform the development of policy and praised CORE’s effort to find out the views of young people and share these with the mayoral candidates. He made a strong commitment to engage with CORE, wider civil society in London and faith and user groups. Both Deputy Mayors agreed to meet representatives of CORE on their specific briefs.
The 50 or so attendees also heard from Mark Blake who gave a brief overview of the report. He stressed four points from the report:
Civil Society groups working on race equality, such as those in CORE, must do more to work with BAME young people
Racism and discrimination hadn’t gone away
The challenge of growing economic inequality is impacting hardest on London’s BAME communities
There were also three presentations on work engaging young people across the capital:
Kismet Meyon, one of the Mayor’s Young Advisors, spoke about her work within the team at City Hall that informs Mayoral policy with the views of young people, in particular the challenges facing young people from poorer backgrounds in the capital going into higher education
Deje Adeoshun, from Hackney CVS, talked about the work the CVS had been developing around improving outcomes for young black men, in partnership with the local council and the team of peer advocates recruited to lead this important work
Abdul Hasnath, from the Osmani Trust, gave a short talk on the work of the Trust in supporting vulnerable young people through proactive youth and community work.
Abdul also gave a touching anecdote about one of the young men interviewed in a focus group for the All London Voices project. A few weeks after the focus group, the young man was stabbed in an incident in the local area. He got in touch with the team at Osmani who were able to support him both in getting medical attention in the immediate aftermath and by giving him support and wise counsel. This probably averted a scenario where he and his friends would have sought retribution.
This provided a salient reminder that the challenges facing young people, from inequality and lack of opportunities to youth violence, are interlinked and that the role of civic society and the community in supporting and guiding them is absolutely crucial
CORE will be looking at how the foundations set out in this project can be built upon. It was a really positive night.
Last year David Cameron set an ambitious target to increase BME employment (including self employment) by 20% by the year 2020. However, subsequently not much has been said about what is being done to achieve these targets.
BTEG is involved in two separate programmes, both working to improve employment outcomes for those from BME backgrounds:
Moving on Up, funded by Trust for London and City Bridge Trust, involves six partners working to support young black men into employment.
Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) is funding four demonstration projects to test out solutions to support BME participants into quality jobs to help move them out of poverty.
Working across these programmes, and with a new Prime Minister in post, BTEG thought it was an ideal time to have a workshop bringing together the partners working to support people into work with Government departments and funders, to share the learning so far from the BME targeted programmes.
At the workshop we heard from a number of speakers around diversifying the workforce.
Tony Thomas from Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) highlighted that there are 12 or 13 urban hubs in the UK where most of the UK BME population live. The government is keen to learn more about what works at local level to overcome barriers to employment for some BME groups.
Kerry Fern from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) ran through a list of things which DWP are doing so support BME people into work – for example, Universal Credit, developing local JCP offer, talking to JCP employer engagement teams. DWP recognises that there are particular issues for some groups such as young black men. DWP is at a stage of ‘wanting to listen and learn’ about what works.
Kerry also mentioned:
BME employment hot spots;
DWP produced a toolkit on BME unemployment for JCP work coaches to use hotspots – they are still developing this – should be ready in autumn;
Some JCPs working well with local BME communities – DWP talking to those to learn from best practice;
The 2020 target is national. DWP is not setting targets for local JCP districts – but is encouraging them to learn about their communities.
Trust for London spoke about some of the messages being tested on employers, specifically around employing young black men particularly to ensure that diversity targets for employers included ethnicity. Many employers tended to equate diversity with gender and disability and did not necessarily include or focus on ethnicity.
Project partners The Mayor’s Fund for London, Women Like Us and Hackney CVS spoke about their projects and how they engage both with employers and project participants. The Mayor’s Fund have set up an Employers Board and have engaged at a strategic level to address issues such as the potential skills shortage unless employers increase diversity and also by also raising awareness of the financial benefits that a more diverse workforce can bring.
Women Like Us reach their target group of Pakistani and Somali mums in Lambeth through the services they already access such as schools, sewing groups and via community champions and provide bespoke employment support but also work to increase confidence particularly in women who feel language is a barrier or have qualifications from other countries not recognised in the UK.
Hackney CVS has developed a holistic approach to improve employment outcomes for young black men in the borough. This includes support from school age, working with communities and agencies in the borough to provide this support.
In group discussions around what projects could do to contribute to the Government’s 2020 target, it was felt that a stronger message was needed from the Government on its BME target and that they should use their leverage to open doors with senior people in large companies to engage with achieving the target.
Some felt that having specific BME targets for employment within JCP at a localised level would help drive more rapid change.
Initiatives involving employers ranged from having jobs fairs with live jobs offered to use of positive action by employers.
The general feeling in the room was that much could be achieved by the collaboration of Government departments, funders and projects working on the front line to achieve the 2020 target.
BTEG will share further learning coming out of both Moving on Up and JRF’s Poverty and Ethnicity demonstration projects over the coming months.
For further information on BME employment and the Government’s 2020 ambition contact Jeremy Crook, CEO, Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) at Jeremy@bteg.co.uk
David Lammy’s independent government sponsored review of the treatment of, and outcomes for, black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people in the Criminal Justice System is unique in a number of ways; particularly an opposition MP being asked to lead an independent government inquiry of any type is quite unprecedented.
That the inquiry is focused on a subject area as contentious and emotive as race and CJS only adds to the challenge.
Lammy himself has been keen to stress this context, often stating that had he been asked to complete this review for his own party leader it may have had a different feel than the one he will produce for the Prime Minister. Clearly a strong sense of realpolitik is at the forefront of Lammy’s thinking and its been made very clearly that he won’t bring forward proposals that don’t have a strong evidence base and/or are likely to be politically unpalatable to the Prime Minister and Secretary of State of Justice.
As somebody who has worked quite closely with Lammy’s review team I have often been put in the position of defending the review to the charge that Lammy will fail to hold the CJS to account. At BTEG we understand some of the scepticism that this review has received in BAME communities and other circles. Undoubtedly, over the past eight years, race has diminished as a priority across the criminal justice system. Our view is that we have to be realistic in our expectations but we are fully committed to engage and support the work of the review.
Lammy himself did a fine job in rejecting the notion that he would be producing a timid report with the speech he gave in July on gangs at a conference on ethnic disproportionality in London’s youth justice system, held at London Councils in partnership with BTEG. At the conference he gave a powerful, thoughtful, evidence based critique of valid concerns around the use of gang’s databases. He raised legitimate concerns around civil liberties, the highest levels of ethnic disproportionality that he has seen so far within the CJS, the use of such information as evidence in court and the concern that rather than diverting young people from the CJS, gangs policy could be pulling many into it by way of mere association, where they reside and their ethnic background.
From this example it’s clear that Lammy will not shy away from bringing forward the difficult questions where he finds the evidence base to support his assertions.
From the position of the Young Review and BTEG, with a new Secretary of State for Justice who has hit the pause button on Michael Gove’s prison reforms, it is essential that such a core part of CJS reform places addressing ethnic disproportionality at its heart from the get go and doesn’t park it with the stock answer of `we are waiting for the Lammy Review’s report.’
The context of change politically has been huge over the past few months. As the dust settles after the referendum and with a new incumbent at 10 Downing Street for me there’s a sense that post-Brexit Britain is in search of a new national identity.
The Prime Minister has put addressing inequality at the centre of her vision. The timing of the Lammy Review couldn’t be better.
Migration control and economic security were probably the two main issues for voters in the recent referendum. I haven’t found any analysis of how BME people voted in the referendum but polling before it suggested that nearly two thirds them would vote to remain.
In the post-war period many mainstream politicians argued BME immigrants could only integrate into British society if their number was controlled. However, in 2004, the British Government agreed to the Free Movement of Labour (FML), goods, services and finance within the EU but estimated that very few migrants would come here from the EU.
Twelve years later there are 3 million EU migrants in the UK and 1.3 million Brits living and working in other member states.
During that same period we have also had:
a severe economic downturn in the USA and Europe caused by the collapse of the several large banks.
austerity which put even greater pressure on public services and working people.
an on-going severe lack of social housing.
Although the UK has now technically achieved ‘full employment’ with unemployment rate at 4.9% (not true for young people and BME communities), how many of these are full-time and with a living wage is a matter for debate.
We are told that the FML suppresses wage levels, especially for low paid workers. That may or may not be true. It’s clear that politicians did not think through the implications of its FML policy and we haven’t heard anything over the past 12 years about the impact of FML on BME jobseekers.
BTEG have spent many years working to narrow the employment gap between the UK’s BME and white workforce, which is still around 11 per cent. In London there is also a 20 per cent pay gap between BME and white workers. For young black men the unemployment rate in London is 30% more than double that of white young people and only 10% of apprentices in the UK are from BME backgrounds.
The reality for many young BME people is that they are competing against their white British counterparts and well-educated, bilingual young white Europeans. As a young black man from London told me, it's hard getting jobs in Oxford Street (retail sector) these days when ‘you only speak one language.’
I recently asked a well educated young black male Londoner why he had wanted to stay in the EU. He said economic security (being part of the single market) and employment opportunities. I then asked him what he thought about competing for jobs in London with young people from other member states that are often white, well educated and bilingual. He hadn’t really considered this.
How many young BME people speak other European languages and can realise the economic benefit of working in the EU? It’s probably more the case that many young BME people enjoy the cultural benefits the EU offers because of affordable and restriction free travel.
I don’t know how many young BME people from low income backgrounds voted to remain in the EU but clearly most Londoners did. I suspect those BME people that voted to leave the EU did so for a combination of reasons, but the electorate was denied an intelligent debate about migration and this vacuum was filled by ‘fear’ mongers. We also saw offensive racist campaigning, designed to whip up fear amongst white voters.
One former Prime Minister even suggested that people were mainly concerned about non-EU migration. Of course, there will always be some people that would prefer if there was no immigration at all. It’s probably this group of people that now feels at liberty to abuse and attack BME people, migrants and refugees.
The State needs to lead the fight against this unlawful behaviour and we all have duty to stop hate crime and racism.
On 15 July London Councils and BTEG hosted a half-day conference on ethnic disproportionality in London’s Youth Justice System. The event was attended by over 60 attendees from local government, the voluntary sector, Mayors Office for Policing and Crime, members of the Young Review Independent Advisory Group and other key partners, such as London Community Rehabilitation Company.
There was a variety of presentations on the national policy context including:
There were also excellent examples of relevant works in progress in the London boroughs of Hackney and Lewisham: In Lewisham, following a seminar chaired by Lola Young, a number of work streams have been developed working with community partners in areas such as commissioning and prevention services. In Hackney we heard about an ambitious corporate programme to improve outcomes across the boroughs services for young black boys/ men in employment, educations, social services and youth justice. A key feature of this programme has been the borough’s commitment to work in partnership with communities involving the user group and civil society partners such as Hackney CVS.
Both examples resonated with the Young Review and our recommendations for the need to build social capital and for statutory agencies to engage in long term partnerships with those affected communities.
David Lammy spoke about the levels of ethnic disproportionality in gangs policy and the specific questions his review would be posing in this area, particularly around the accuracy of gangs nominal lists and the use of such evidence in pursuing cases seeking to prove gang association, an aggravating factor which could lead to harsher sentencing.. He welcomed the Mayor of London’s commitment to review the Metropolitan Police’s gang matrix.
Lin Hinnigan, outgoing CEO of the Youth Justice Board, told the audience that ethnic disproportionality was now one of the YJB’s top three priorities. She highlighted the depth of the challenge in London with reference to the statistics from 2014/15 below
Sophie Linden, the Deputy Mayor for London, outlined key areas of the Mayor’s policy focus around policing and community safety and addressing ethnic disproportionality, improving police community relations and making the Met Police more representative of the communities they serve.
BTEG will be following up after the event through our policy work under the Young Review with both London Councils and MOPAC.
I have lived in Mitcham in South London pretty much my whole life. While I was born and raised in the UK, both my parents were raised in Ghana which influenced a lot of my upbringing.
I am a huge fan of literature and love to read in my spare time. I also have a passion for writing as a hobby, regularly finding time to come up with and explore new ideas for books. It is a future ambition of mine to one day publish a book of my own.
After my A-Levels, I attended the University of Hertfordshire, where I got my BA in Business Administration. My writing ability and natural problem solving skills drew me towards marketing, and upon graduating I became determined to pursue it as a career.
One thing that has been an issue for me in the past was my confidence in interviews. I have always been sure of my abilities, and I have no problem striking up conversation or even presenting in front of many people. But somehow, the very idea of selling myself to a panel of interviewers always intimidated me. It got to the point where I felt so much pressure to make a great first impression that it drove me to make a bad one. This would then make me feel under even more pressure to impress during the next interview, thus continuing the cycle.
I started to take on voluntary and temporary jobs in relevant roles for experience in order to boost both my CV and my confidence, but it never seemed to be enough to get me used to the interview process. I occasionally found success when applying for jobs, but they often deviated from what I was determined to pursue; marketing. But then I found Making The Leap.
Enrolling on the MTL workshop was one of the best decisions I ever made. The programme challenges you to experience the realities of a corporate workplace, increasingly testing your abilities as the days go by until you find yourself doing tasks you would otherwise never consider doing as a matter of course. Going through it not only helped me dispel many of my interview anxieties, it helped me to feel like the professional I knew I was capable of becoming. I am incredibly grateful to the MTL programme, and when the opportunity to work with the people who helped me presented itself, I with no hesitation.
I am now in a role that I not only love, but which gives me a number of tasks identical to those I would experience in a marketing role. I feel more confident than ever that my ambition to build a successful marketing career is within my reach, and I have both Making The Leap and the Moving On Up initiative to thank for that.
I started off as a young man whose parents were very protective of and never let me interact with the outside world. Going to school was for me the only opportunity to come into contact with other individuals but my lack of interaction with people led me to withdraw into myself. Unable to understand how to relate with others, I was always on the defensive, which brought me into challenging situations. As a result, my school decided to assign me to a mentor – Nick, with whom I met every week to talk about my life inside and outside of school. We also did many enjoyable activities such as bowling, going to watch Arsenal games, build model cars etc.
Before having a mentor, I felt that no one knew how to deal with me but Nick had patience and allowed me to open up when I was ready. He taught me essential life skills and the importance of politics and political figures. One of the last times I saw my mentor was at a Christmas party at 11 Downing Street with the Chancellor of Exchequer who was Gordon Brown at the time. Nick believed in me, spoke words of wisdom into my life and years later it manifested.
This mentoring programme not only showed me how to interact with others and become part of the society, but it also gave me a sense of direction as I realised that I wanted to work in the government. Eight years later, I started to work for the Treasury and over the last three years, I have been volunteering with Hackney council as an inspirational peer leader for the Moving On Up initiative. I use my life experiences and success to encourage young people who face difficulties to get into work and education, and I help them build confidence the same way Nick has helped me.
My mentor and the various organisations I came across have had an enormous impact on my life as they help me build a strong foundation. They invested their time in me and because of that, I have been able to come this far. I believe that people like me are examples of hope, change and resilience and no matter what situation you are in, you can turn a mess into a message. All it requires is patience, someone who can believe in you, motivate you and help you get a sense of direction. This is exactly what plenty of young people out there need in their life.