Black graduates are three times more likely to be unemployed than white graduates six months of finishing university, it has emerged.

The worrying statistic was highlighted during this week’s BBC Panorama ‘Jobs for the boys?’ in which former footballer Sol Campbell investigated the complex reasons behind the high unemployment rates among black men in the UK. The statistic came from a study last year which also found that black graduates who do find work can expect to earn up to nine per cent less for the same work as a white graduate over five years.

The Deloitte-backed study, carried out by think tank Bow Group and youth employment charity Elevation Networks, was based on interviews with 2,500 students over two years. It found that black students were not being given the same opportunities as white students.

Samuel Kasumu, founder of Elevation Networks, said the findings were deeply worrying, saying:

“We found black students are concerned about what their future once they graduate. Many of them believe the odds are firmly stacked against them. There are particular challenges when it comes to those students who are considering a career in financial services, legal services, government, and media, which is very concerning.”

Black graduate Kyle Parris studied electrical and electronic engineering at Liverpool John Moores University, and had hoped his degree would give him a good start in a career in engineering. But four years after graduating he is still without a paid job. He told Panorama:

“I’m still applying now. I have done work experience for companies, where I have worked for 30 hours a week for eight weeks and never received payment – for free. So that shows that I’ve got eagerness and I am willing to work – I just want the chance. Just give me a chance.”

Graduate Fog knows that it is difficult for graduates from any background to find decent, well-paid, permanent jobs right now. As Sol Campbell highlighted in the Panorama, the reasons for the particularly high unemployment rate among certain groups are complex – and working out what’s really going wrong isn’t easy as there are so many factors involved. But we feel strongly that much more research and discussion is needed in order to get to the bottom of why black graduates seem to be struggling so much more than any other group.

Are employers just plain racist? Or are there further reasons why black graduates are struggling to get their careers started? What has been your experience of applying for jobs – and has your success or failure had anything to do with your skin colour? If they are at a disadvantage, should graduates from certain ethnic backgrounds be given extra help and support when entering the job market after university, or would that be unfair on everyone else?

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