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Graduates from ethnic minority backgrounds more than TWICE as likely to be unemployed.

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University graduates from black and ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds are two and a half times more likely to be unemployed than their white British counterparts, according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The TUC cited official figures which show that the unemployment rate for white workers with degrees is 2.3% compared with 5.9% for those from BAME backgrounds.

“The harsh reality is that even now black and Asian people, regardless of their qualifications and experience, are far more likely to be unemployed and lower paid than white people,” said the TUC’s general secretary, Frances O’Grady.

“Whether they have PhDs or GCSEs, BAME workers have a much tougher time in the jobs market.  Not only is this wrong but it is a huge waste of talent.  Companies that only recruit from a narrow base are missing out on the wide range of experiences on offer from Britain’s many different communities.”

BAME workers with A-level equivalents including trade apprenticeships and vocations were 3.2 times more likely to be unemployed than their white counterparts, the TUC said.

That despite the fact that young men and women from ethnic minority backgrounds are more likely to go to university than their white British peers.

An analysis by the TUC earlier this year also showed that black graduates are paid nearly a quarter less than their white counterparts.

O’Grady said the government should take tougher action as employers still found it easy to discriminate against workers from minority backgrounds.

The TUC’s recommendations for the government include using public sector contracts to improve companies’ equality practices; the introduction of anonymous applications in the public sector and forcing companies to include staff ethnicity figures in their annual reports.

The government has defended its record, citing that the black and ethnic minority employment rate is now at its highest rate since records began in 2001.

A government spokesperson also told the Guardian that the it was committed to increasing BAME employment and apprenticeship take-up by 20% by 2020.

The business secretary – British Pakistani origin Sajid Javid – has called on businesses to do more to support the careers of black and minority ethnic workers.

Earlier this year the government announced that Javid would lead a cross-government taskforce focused on improving the life chances of non-white Britons.

Under the government’s “BME 2020 plan” ministers have been charged with increasing the number of black and minority ethnic students going to university by 20%, raising apprenticeship take-up and ensuring that 20,000 start-up loans are awarded to BME applicants by 2020.

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