In the economic fallout from the Covid-19 crisis there is a major risk of mass unemployment with devastating long-term consequences for young people. Young black men, who faced employment inequalities even before the crisis, are at particular risk.
By April, the Covid-19 crisis had pushed the UK’s youth unemployment rate to over 12% (compared with just under 4% for the whole population).1 There are significant job losses to come and with this year’s education leavers competing in a shrinking labour market there are fears that more than one million young people will be jobless by the end of 2020. 2 Even before this crisis, unemployment rates for young black men were more than three times the rate for white young men, at every qualification level.³
The brutal killing of George Floyd has sparked worldwide Black Lives Matter protests which have once again highlighted the inequalities for black people in the UK. Young black men believe there is an opportunity now for major change:
“Our voices are starting to be heard. We can’t let it die down and let people go back to living their lives.”
“Allies have realised a lot of the struggle that black people are going through – they see it through our lens now.”
‘We need to rebuild the job market in a way that embraces diversity.’⁴
Since 2014, the Moving on Up programme,⁵ an initiative that aims to increase employment opportunities for young black men in London, has been piloting practical solutions to address the inequalities in employment outcomes. With growing numbers of individuals, organisations and companies asking what they can do to end racism and racial inequalities, we offer these solutions from the Moving on Up initiative:
- Targeted approaches are needed. Generic youth employment or black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employment initiatives have not ended disparities for specific populations such as young black men.
- Local authorities and job centres can bring together key local agencies to jointly develop and deliver action plans to support young black men into good quality jobs, as currently being piloted in Brent and Newham.
- Larger businesses can implement recruitment and workforce monitoring to identify if young black men are under-represented within the company.
- Business leaders can champion attracting, recruiting and encouraging progression of young black men within their own companies and wider industries.
- All businesses can engage with organisations working directly with young black men to create pathways to opportunities.
Moving on Up has produced information, resources and networks to help other agencies to deliver these solutions.
1 House of Commons Library (June 2020) Youth Unemployment Statistics https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn05871/
2 Resolution Foundation (May 2020) Class of 2020: Education Leavers in the Current Crisis https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/publications/class-of-2020/
3 April 2019-March 2020 unemployment rate for young black men in London = 42% and for white young men = 14%, Annual Population Survey. Black = Black, Caribbean, Black African and Black British. Young = 16-24.
4 These quotes are from the Moving on Up Ambassadors; nine young black men who are supporting the design and implementation of the Moving on Up programme.
5 Moving on Up is a partnership programme led by Trust for London, City Bridge Trust and the Black Training and Enterprise Group, working with local authorities, jobs centres, voluntary sector and other agencies in the London Boroughs of Brent and Newham and with employer champions in the construction, finance and digital industries. The Moving on Up Advisory Group is chaired by Bola Abisogun OBE FRICS. He is also the founder of Urbanis Ltd and DiverseCity Surveyors.