Unemployment amongst Young Black Men

jobs for the boys

Sol Campbell explored unemployment amongst young black men in a Panorama documentary ‘Jobs for the boys’ on Monday 13th May 2013. The main assertion was ‘Unemployment for young black men is twice as high as unemployment for young white men’. It went on to explore why young black men were unable to obtain employment but it didn’t provide enough answers.

The documentary identified that young black men are being let down with bad advice from government-based establishments – jobs centres, careers centres and others. It went on to say that young black men need advice from role models within their community. I agree, but I believe that role models can be anyone with successful working careers, not exclusively from the same ethnic background. These individuals provide advice and share experiences of working in various industries. They explain how particular businesses work and provide information of routes into employment. Establishing access to a variety of role models can be achieved through events put on by Inspirational You. These events are specially aimed at empowering and educating young people.

The documentary failed to mention other factors such as name discrimination. This is where applicants are rejected because there have a West Indian, African or Muslin name [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20608039]. Other factors include postcode discrimination where applicants are rejected because of where they live. Academics call this a theory and dismiss that it actually happens, but youth and community workers have told us that it does happen. One way to counteract these issues is to show employers that you participate in extra curriculum and community based activities like the Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE) or volunteering. Employers value these activities because they show that applicants are committed to self development and achievement.

The documentary also failed to explain factor affecting young black male graduate. Employers pick the best graduates with the best grades from top Universities but the percentage of black men attending top universities is very low. They tend to go to the ‘old polytechnic’ universities. Why is this? A recent study found the students from ethnic minorities are less likely to gain places at top universities than white pupils with the same A-level grades [http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/ethnic-minorities-less-likely-to-gain-russell-group-places/2002812.article]. Other factors include bad advice, under achievement and  peer pressure or fear of being a minority in a predominately white University community.

To conclude, the documentary raised important issues. There is a disproportionate unemployment level for young black men but don’t expect any special help from the government. Young black men have to help themselves.

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