New targets for Scottish firms to hire minority groups look set to be drawn up as part of a national race equality drive unveiled by the Scottish Government.
People from minority ethnic communities are twice as likely to be out of work in Scotland, and Equalities Secretary Angela Constance has said the situation must change.
“As employers, colleagues and neighbours, across all levels of government and services and society, we must all make the changes necessary,” Ms Constance said yesterday.
The action plan reveals that ministers will now work with key groups, including the black and minority ethnicity (BME) Employability Strategic Steering Group, to agree “baselines, measures and targets” for minority candidates who struggle to get work.
Scots classed as “ethic white” have employment rates of 74.2 per cent, but this plummets to 58.5 per cent for ethnic minority groups, despite the latter generally being better educated.
Women from ethnic minority groups were particularly disadvantaged, with employment rates around 24 per cent lower than those for men from their community – a gap that is around three times higher than the 7 per cent difference in overall employment rates for men and women in Scotland.
Ms Constance added: “We know that minority ethnic communities are disproportionately affected by poverty and unemployment despite having the highest levels of educational attainment and other barriers in health and housing need to be addressed.
“Our action plan shows our leadership in this area to advance race equality, but this isn’t the job of government alone and all society must play their part in removing the barriers faced by our minority ethnic communities.”
The Race Equality Action Plan contains more than 120 actions spanning employment, education, health, housing, poverty, community cohesion and safety for all minority ethnic communities in Scotland.
People from the Polish, Bangladeshi and African communities had the highest rates of housing overcrowding. After housing costs were taken into account, more than a third of people from minority ethnic groups were living in poverty, compared with 18 per cent among those who classed themselves as “white British”.
The plan is based on the work of the government’s independent race equality adviser Kaliani Lyle, who described it as “a start” and praised Ms Constance’s “leadership and determination” in driving forward the issue.
Ms Lyle added: “Keeping race equality on the agenda, checking progress against the reality of peoples lived experience will be the true determinant of whether we are actually making a difference.”d.