Earlier this year, Sajid Javid MP, then Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, appointed Conservative peer Baroness McGregor-Smith CBE to conduct a review for the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills into the issues faced by businesses in developing black and minority ethnic (BME) talent and progression in the labour market, from when they are recruited and start work through to executive or senior level.
This review was intended to build on previous work done by the Government on improving opportunities for BME people, including their ‘BME 2020‘ plan which is aimed at improving labour market outcomes for those from BME backgrounds. As part of the BME 2020 plan, Government Ministers from across government are aiming to achieve a number of goals including:
- increasing the proportion of apprenticeships taken up by young people from BME backgrounds by 20%;
- increasing the number of BME students going to university by 20%; and
- ensuring that 20,000 start-up loans are awarded to BME applicants by 2020
Baroness McGregor-Smith’s review included a consultation and call for evidence. The Found Generation submitted a response to this consultation, from the point of view of young people from a BME background, covering BME young people who are out of work as well as those in work. Our primary submissions were focused on what the Government can do to support BME young people, with examples of both general and ‘targeted’ policies on a range of areas such as mentoring, apprenticeships, careers advice and reversing recent increases to university tuition fees and changes to maintenance grants for poorer students. Our response includes input and quotes from a number of our young volunteers from BME backgrounds.
We hope that Baroness McGregor-Smith, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (which the review is now reporting to) and the new Government generally will all take our proposals in this area seriously, as improving outcomes for BME young people is critically important to the success of any strategy for BME people generally. After all, there is limited point in the review focusing solely on progression of BME people in work when the high levels of BME youth unemployment suggests that huge numbers of BME young people face a struggle to find work in the first place.