Survey reveals that 71% of young people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds have experienced discrimination in the workplace

Nov 10, 2022

Youth Futures Foundation reveals that a new survey indicates that workplace discrimination is a cause for concern for the future of youth employment. A survey, conducted by Savanta ComRes, offers insight into the issues faced by young people from ethnic minority groups across England.

  • 7 in 10 (71%) young people from ethnic minority backgrounds have experienced some form of workplace or labour market discrimination
  • Almost half (46%) of young people from ethnic minority backgrounds have experienced discrimination when dealing with customers/clients at work
  • More than 8 out of 10 (84%) ethnic minority young people are worried about barriers or challenges to do with their ethnicity or background when it comes to work/employment
  • More than half (55%) of young Black people feel that employers underestimate their abilities because of their ethnic background

Exploring the experience, outlook and attitudes, of over 2,200 young people from ethnic minorities, the survey identifies ethnicity as a key barrier to success due to prejudice and discrimination within the workplace.

Engaging with customers or clients is where most participants had experienced discrimination, particularly for young Black people, and even more so for Black men. With seven in 10 participants experiencing some form of workplace discrimination, the results emphasised a concern for future prospects in the workplace.

As a founding member of the Youth Employment Group (YEG) and co-chair of its Ethnic Disparities subgroup, Youth Futures commissioned this research to support more young people from ethnic minority backgrounds into good jobs.

Youth Futures plans to use insights from the survey, a rapid evidence review of policies affecting young people from ethnic minority backgrounds, and an analysis of ethnicity data gaps to help to implement change, narrow the employment gap and tackle ethnic disparities in youth employment.

In response to the challenge, Youth Futures has announced its intention to release  £5million  to develop innovative partnerships in up to four places with high levels of unemployed young people with Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage, through its flagship Connected Futures programme. This builds on the £8.4million the foundation has already committed to 58 organisations that support Black, Asian and minority ethnic young people.

Lord Simon Woolley, Non-Executive Director at Youth Futures, comments:

“These alarming findings lay bare the scale of discrimination young Black, Asian and minority ethnic people face, compounded by the pressures of the cost of living crisis.

“The Government must act on the recommendations of the House of Lords Youth Unemployment Committee to create an Education and Workplace Race Equality Strategy to remove the additional barriers these young people face, mandating regular collection of data and providing every young person facing disadvantage with tailored careers guidance.

“To tackle this issue, we intend to target a further £5million on innovative place-based partnerships that address the challenges young Black, Asian and minority ethnic people face at a local level.”


Matthew Poole, Director of Grants and Investment, Youth Futures said:

“The research and insight generated by the YEG Ethnic Disparities subgroup informs our investment plans. That’s why we intend to ramp up our flagship Connected Futures programme to join up youth employment support services at a local level.

“Everything we do is guided by robust evidence of what works. We learn from the projects we fund and scale up that learning to drive genuine, long-lasting systemic change.

“Yet more needs to be done at a national level. That’s why we’re calling on the Government to deliver an Opportunity Guarantee and to allocate further dormant assets funding to boost youth employment.”


Isha, Future Voices Group Ambassador, comments:

“Being a British Pakistani Muslim woman I have first-hand experience of the devastation the systematic discrimination prevalent in education and the labour market can have on a young person’s career dreams. Racism is a barrier that no young person should have to overcome. The fact the survey shows that 7 in 10 young people from ethnic minority backgrounds experienced discrimination when applying for a job is alarming but unfortunately not surprising to me. More needs to be done to support young people from ethnic minority backgrounds to achieve their dream jobs and feel valued in society.”

To tackle discrimination in the workplace, Youth Futures calls for inclusive employment practices and better data collection. The research shows that:

  • Employers can improve recruitment experiences by focusing on the skills for the job, being consistent in how they welcome and test candidates and understanding how cultures and systems can be discriminatory. They can enhance experiences at work by making sure that the organisation’s culture is inclusive professionally and socially.
  • Data gaps need to be addressed to understand more about the experiences of young people from ethnic minority backgrounds and the differences between ethnic minority groups.
  • Official data gathering needs to use targeted strategies to get enough information from diverse communities, especially those that (through other channels) report marginalisation and disadvantage.
  • Surveys used in policy development need to look at a wider range of data on employment issues that are of concern to young people from ethnic minority groups including pay and progression, discrimination at work and to ask questions in ways that are culturally sensitive.

Read our Narrowing the gap: tackling ethnic disparities in youth employment booklet summarising the research and findings from data for over 2,200 young people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups from our recent survey.

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