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Ethnicity and gender remain ‘major barriers’ to young starters

62% of young people said they would be more likely to apply to a company if they could see people similar to them working there already

Ethnicity and gender remain “major” barriers for young people entering the world of work as 45% of mixed-race people, 50% of Asian people and 63% of Black people believed ethnicity may potentially impact a job application or interview, according to research commissioned by BDO.

A survey of 1,000 people aged between 16-21 found gender was also seen as an issue, with 38% of females surveyed believing it may affect a job application compared to 26% of males.

The research also looked into what employers can do to make themselves more attractive and inclusive to young people looking to undertake an apprenticeship or training programme.

65% said they would be more likely to apply to accept an apprenticeship or training programme with a business that has programmes targeted specifically to people like them. This rises to 69% for those respondents from a lower socio-economic background.

Similarly, 62% of young people said they would be more likely to apply to a company if they could see people similar to them working there already, including the same ethnicity or from the area they live. This rose to 70% for those from a Black heritage.

Additionally, respondents from a lower socio-economic background were also more likely to apply to a company that offered online-only applications or one that paid travel expenses for in-person interviews or assessment days, compared to those from other backgrounds.

Sarah Hillary, partner at BDO, said: “The fact that young people today still see their gender and ethnicity as potential barriers to entering the workplace is hugely worrying. It’s crucial that businesses wake up to the efforts needed to attract talented young people from every corner of the UK.

“Equality, diversity and inclusion efforts in business have improved but it appears that the uncertain conditions brought on by Covid-19 has slowed progress in some areas.”

“We must address the long-standing barriers in the labour market so that everyone – irrespective of gender, race or background – can fulfil their potential. Encouraging people to join a company is just the start; shifting how the employer then helps them reach their potential is essential.”

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