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Barriers for BAME graduates in the job market today

There have been a number of headlines in graduate recruitment recently centred on the employability gap between Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups and white groups. Recent TUC (Trades Union Congress) findings show us that BAME workers with qualifications from GCSEs to PhDs still have a tougher time in the jobs market.


The recent news has painted a dreary picture of inequality in the British workforce. A review by the Equality and Human Rights Commission highlighted that Britain still faced an ‘entrenched race inequality in many areas’ - one of which being within the graduate job market. They discovered "Black graduates earn on average 23.1% less than white graduates as well as higher levels of unemployment amongst people from ethnic minorities in the UK".

In order to combat inequality, the government has launched a ‘BME 2020 plan’. Ministers have been tasked with increasing the number of BME students attending university, raising apprenticeship take up and ensuring that 20,000 of the start-up loans awarded go to BME applicants by 2020. HESA data shows the finalist class in 2014/15 at Russell Group universities was made up of only 4% were students from black heritage groups, but getting into higher education is not the main issue - on average most ethnic minority groups in Britain are highly educated and more likely to attend university than white students but they still face challenges in securing a graduate role.

At Bright Network we surveyed our BAME members in our 2016 annual research report - what do the brightest graduates want? - and found BAME men were the most confident in pursuing any career path they wished but do believe their background is a barrier to securing a graduate role. The research highlighted the high levels of ambition amongst our BAME members, with an extra 8% planning to start a job straight after university, compared to the rest of the membership. 

Although there is an existing pay gap and a divide between BAME candidates securing graduate roles vs their white counterparts, our research report identified BAME members were most worried about perceptions of strong competition for roles, a feeling of lack of experience and lack of contacts in securing a graduate role.