Figures released today give us a good indication on the movement of the labour market. While unemployment remains low, inactivity remains an area we are focused on tackling and it is hugely positive to see people of all backgrounds moving into jobs or taking steps to search for work.
The Government is committed to achieving fairness and equality for all, and the ethnic minority employment rate continues to be close to a record high, at 69%, which shows we are moving in the right direction. It is right that everyone who can work, is supported to do so, and is given the tools they need to forge a bright career.
Our approach is focused on understanding and sharing best practice to deliver our core services effectively for ethnic minority jobseekers, who can face individual challenges when entering the workforce.
I want to highlight some of the tailored support available in our Jobcentres with Asian Standard readers. I would encourage all jobseekers to make use of the support on offer and tap into the help available.
Our dedicated Work Coaches offer tailored interventions to suit every customer’s needs, whether that’s through our Youth Hubs or nationwide Sector-Based Academy Programmes (SWAPs).
SWAPs last up to six weeks and help jobseekers to develop key skills for the world of work, giving them fresh content for their CV and guarantees them an interview with an employer on completion of the programme.
Our Flexible Support Fund also invests in local initiatives, benefitting communities, such as mentoring circles for people from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Mentoring circles involve employers offering specialised support specifically to unemployed, young ethnic minority jobseekers. This tailored support helps build confidence, raise aspirations and job search skills whilst also helping employers to understand and revise their recruitment practices.
Our Jobcentre network across Great Britain is not only helping people get into work but is also helping even more people to boost their earnings by increasing support for claimants already in work.
We recently made changes so that from the end of February, over 120,000 working people on Universal Credit will receive more face-to-face time with a Work Coach, allowing them to access opportunities to increase their earnings.
In the North East, the number of people employed is at 1.2 million – up 9,000 on the year but 56,000 remain out of work. Our Jobcentres in Sunderland are working closely with Young Asian Voices, a local multicultural youth and community project so that we can make sure everyone is aware of the benefits of Universal Credit and how it can help create a secure future through work.
And in Birmingham, Washwood Heath Jobcentre is engaging with the Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre, placing a work coach on site as well as having local training providers regularly visiting to promote available SWAPs. Youth Hub advisers are also on hand to support customers and signpost to Apprenticeship opportunities with a range of employers, such as Jaguar Land Rover.
Our approach will always look to harness the expertise and offer of partners and employers to improve opportunities for individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds.
We are committed to levelling up and spreading opportunity across the country, including improving the employment outcomes of everyone. This will ensure all our customers receive the support they need when they need it.