Workplace racism denies training to many qualified black workers

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date: Monday 11 April 2005

embargo: 00.01 Friday 15 April

Attention: News, industrial, social affairs desks, ethnic, education and training media

Racism in Britain’s workplaces is damaging the career prospects of many black workers because at every level of working life they get less training opportunities, despite often being better qualified than their white counterparts.

A new TUC report launched today (Friday 15 April) to coincide with the TUC’s annual Black Worker’s conference entitled 'Workplace training - a race for opportunity', reveals that even though job related training is more likely to be offered to qualified workers; qualified black and minority ethnic workers (BME) receive less opportunities.

The report shows that 28 per cent of BMEs are graduates, compared to just 20 per cent of white workers. And while having a degree significantly increases access to job related training, only 17 per cent of white graduates have never been offered training, compared to 20 per cent of black workers.

But where BME workers are employed in workplaces with trade union recognition, or are in the public sector the openings to training are much improved. The positive actions taken by unions, and imposed by the Race Relations amendment act (2000) on employers has limited the effects of workplace racism.

Brendan Barber TUC General Secretary, said: 'Racism at work is still preventing too many black workers from fulfilling their potential. We need new legislation that will force all employers to give equal access to training for all workers. The TUC is campaigning to extend Britain’s race relations law to make all workplaces respond positively to the training needs of black workers.'

Certain ethnic groups, in particular Pakistani and Bangladeshi employees, face real barriers to training opportunities. Nearly two fifths (39 per cent) of Pakistani employees and nearly half (47 per cent) of Bangladeshi employees have never been offered training. And in the case of Bangladeshi men, this rises to more than half (51 per cent).

Main findings from 'Workplace training - a race for opportunity'

  • Some 31 per cent of BME workers have never been offered training by their current employer. This compares with 29 per cent of white employees not being offered training.
  • Public sector employees are much more likely to be offered training by their employer. Only 15 per cent of BME public sector employees say they have never been offered training, compared to 37 per cent working in the private sector. The equivalent figures for white employees are 14 per cent and 35 per cent.
  • Those belonging to a trade union have a huge advantage in being offered training. Just 16 per cent of unionised BME employees have never been offered training compared to 36 per cent who are not union members.
  • In certain industrial sectors there is a clear divide in equality of access to training. For example, in manufacturing nearly half (48 per cent) of BME employees say that they have never been offered training compared to only 37 per cent of white employees.
  • The ‘qualification divide’ has a huge impact on who is offered job-related training by their employer. For the workforce at large, there is a clear ‘training hierarchy’ with only 17 per cent of employees with a degree saying that they have never been offered such training compared to 55 per cent of those employees without any qualifications.

The TUC Black Workers’ conference takes place on Friday 15 to Sunday 17 April, in the Floral Hall, Southport opening at 2pm. Keynote speakers include: Brendan Barber TUC General Secretary (Friday 15 afternoon); Sir Bill Morris (Saturday 16 morning); Fiona McTaggart Parliamentary under secretary for race equality and community policy (Saturday 16 afternoon); and Claude Moraes MEP (Sunday 17 morning).


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