This article was first published on illuminate October 2021. In which I speak of a Report That I worked on for The Institute for Student Employers And argue that we must take action to support the careers of black heritage students.
Most career services will say they are doing their best to support racial justice. The latest issue of AGCAS Phoenix is dedicated to racial equality Show the wide range of practice that was out there.
But, our new report An important black career Suggests that there is still a lot to do and provides some concrete ideas on how career services can take things forward.
Challenges for students from a black heritage background
The vast majority of ISE members (90%), including employers and careers professionals, agreed that students from black heritage backgrounds face special challenges in the job market.
statistics Produced by the government Back this up, emphasizing the fact that black workers earn £ 1 an hour less than white workers and that only 5% of black workers are in management and senior positions compared to 11% of white workers.
These inequalities are not limited to the workplace and can also be found in the education system where black students are less likely to attend university at high rates and less likely to get 2: 1 or first once they are there.
Listening to voices from a black heritage background
We spoke with current students and fresh graduates from a black heritage background to get their point of view. They felt that when you are black you have to work harder to be successful and talked about how challenging it is to work in white environments. They complained that people from black heritage backgrounds are often absent from recruitment processes and argued that organizations should commit to greater diversity at all levels.
They also had a lot to say about whether the education system had successfully prepared them for moving to the workplace. They wanted to see more career education in schools, colleges and universities and that this support would continue after graduation.
We need to see changes in the education system. Careers should be embedded in our courses.
They also wanted to see race and racism discussed more openly as part of career and employment education. One participant argued that it was important that the education system not be a ‘white space’ and another that career education should actively try and incorporate black speakers and role models.
They also stressed that career education should include discussion and ideas on how to challenge racism. They hoped that the education system could become an active force for positive change.
We need more learning from real life in the education system. For example, we need to learn how complaint processes work.
We need to focus on justice and how to navigate complex processes.
Universities need to take on more of an advocacy role.
Participants argued that career services should actively engage with race and racism issues in order to prepare students for what they will experience in the workforce. This approach to building practical resilience to racism should also be balanced with an education that challenges racism and builds a broader understanding of other cultures.
White people need to understand more about other cultures. We need to enjoy other cultures. But PC culture makes it difficult to say things. We need to talk about it more. Universities and workplaces play it safe too.
In general, participants believed that career services played an important role in preparing all young people for the workplace. Because race is an important way in which people’s work experience is constructed, it is important for educators and career professionals to talk about it with black and white students alike.
What career services can do
Career services should be involved in the active challenge of racism and bias. The UK is a multi-ethnic and multicultural country and students graduating from universities will spend their working lives surrounded by people with different backgrounds.
Career services should ensure that everyone learns about a variety of cultures. This includes learning about racism and inequality in the workplace and how to challenge it. This should be addressed not only in programs designed for black heritage students, but all students in building education careers to be able to work and live in a multicultural UK.
This means talking openly about issues of race, racism, bias and inequality in career and education for employment ability. Black students need a place to discuss issues they are concerned about and help deal with the challenges they may be experiencing. But, employment programs should also employ white students in thinking about race and racism and consider how they can play a positive role.
We know that providing a career and effective employment capability actively involves employers. Universities need to address the ethnic diversity of role models they bring to the institution and ensure that students from black heritage backgrounds have access to employers and specializations and placement opportunities.
Employers are allies of universities in supporting alumni careers, but career services need to be ready to support students and challenge employers on race issues. They should also be open to feedback from employers and students about their diversity and respond to this feedback in the affirmative.
Finally, it is important that career services address their diversity and representation. Career services need to be more diverse and make an active commitment to tackling racial injustice.