South West Regional Skills Enterprise and Employment Analysis 2007/2008
6.5 Disadvantaged groups
Evidence shows that employment among groups such as lone parents, those from some ethnic minority groups and people with disabilities remain significantly below the national average, although the gap has narrowed over the past decade.
These persistent disparities in employment rates and labour market opportunities mean that these groups have not shared fully in past increases in prosperity. Economic inactivity also represents a waste of potential. As the population ages, workers from such ‘non-traditional’ sources of labour will become an increasingly important source of labour.
The Objective 3 South West Regional Development Plan 2000-2006 (revised 2005)(103) points to a number of groups within the South West region that can be described as disadvantaged in terms of their ability to access the labour market or secure employment. These are presented in Table 17.
Table 17: Groups which may experience difficulty
Table 18: Barriers
Figure 25 below shows the differential employment rates for disadvantaged groups nationally. The employment rate for unqualified people has been the only indicator of disadvantage to have worsened over the last ten years, and it has further worsened over the last year. This is also an indicator that the level of demand by employers for low-skilled workers is falling. However, the demand for low-skilled labour in the UK will continue to decline, further worsening the labour market position of the low-skilled. It further indicates that this is an area where action will need to be taken to tackle low skills if the falling employment rate is to be tackled. Interestingly employment rates for ethnic minorities (both UK and non-UK nationals) is higher than that for the equivalent white population.
Figure 25: Employment rates of disadvantaged groups
One of the few policy instruments at government’s disposal is Train to Gain. The Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion (CESI) has observed that, despite the existence of the national protocol, there is still insufficient connection between LSC and JC+ provision. They suggest that one way to correct this is to focus Train to Gain firmly on low-skilled claimants who move into work. Train to Gain skill brokers should be responsible for following up employers who recruit Jobcentre Plus customers.
Another group facing disadvantage is ex-offenders. Data for the period from January 2004 up to and including December 2004(104) indicates that of the 4,947 prisoners intending to return to the South West (out of 8,986 released from 13 prisons in the South West):
One of the major challenges for the region looking forward will be to ensure that all groups share more fairly in labour market opportunities. This will provide businesses with a larger pool of labour, allowing a higher sustainable rate of growth, and allow everyone the chance to improve their pay and career prospects.
Barriers continue to exist for significant groups of people within the
labour market. It is critical that the RSP and partners address inequality,
in terms of access for certain groups to training and employment and
ensures that ESF is available to target this need.
(103) ESF Objective 3 Regional Development Plan, 2000-2006,
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