YOUNG VOICES

Asian Students Lose Out On Top Jobs Despite Beating White Peers, Social Mobility Commission Finds

'Britain is a long way from having a level playing field of opportunity.'

28/12/2016 11:08 | Updated 03 January 2017

Young Asian workers are significantly less likely than their white peers to be offered top jobs despite doing better at school, a study has found.  

The Government’s Social Mobility Commission said it had uncovered “stark differences” in how ethnic groups progress into employment, pointing to workplace discrimination as a cause. 

While young people from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds are more likely to do well at school and go to university, they have a lower chance of finding professional jobs, especially in managerial positions.   

Richard Lewisohn via Getty Images
Young Asian people are less likely to be offered the top jobs, despite beating their white peers at school 

Asian Muslim women are particularly affected, earning less on average than their counterparts from other ethnic groups. 

Alan Milburn, chair of the commission, said Britain’s “social mobility promise” was broken and called for renewed action from the government, schools and employers. 

“It is striking that many of the groups that are doing best at school or improving their results the most are losing out when it comes to jobs and opportunities later in life,” he said. 

Although disadvantaged white children perform the worst at primary school and are least likely to go to university, they experience lower unemployment rates than their black and Asian counterparts. 

“Britain is a long way from having a level playing field of opportunity for all, regardless of gender, ethnicity or background,” Milburn added. 

Bart Shaw, lead author of the report, said further research was needed to understand the specific factors behind these inequalities. 

“However, with regards to participation in the labour market, key factors include cultural, family and individual expectations, geography and direct/indirect discrimination,” he added. 

The report, from academics from LKMco and Education Datalab, also showed significant disparity between ethnic groups within the education system. 

Half of low income pupils from Bangladeshi families study at university, while 7 out of 10 poor Chinese people go on to higher education. 

However, only 10% of disadvantaged white and 30% of Black Caribbean children study at uni. 

Researchers also reported that black children are struggling to succeed at school. By 16, these students are the least likely to achieve a C in GCSE maths, with only 63% making the grade compared to a national average of 68%.  

Black schoolboys also face “extremely high” levels of exclusion. 

To target the differences between ethnic groups, schools must get parents involved in their children’s education, especially poor white British families and those from traveller communities, the commission recommended. 

Universities must also address the issues faces by poor white students, while supporting Muslim women to achieve their career goals.  

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