HC Deb 10 December 1998 vol 322 cc287-8W
Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what steps the Government are taking to increase the amount of advice and information available to women from the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities on employment rights and opportunities. [62282]

Ms Hodge

[holding answer 8 December 1998]: First and foremost, the Government fund the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Commission for Racial Equality to advise all individuals on employment rights. More specifically, the DfEE has adopted a Race Equality Strategy committing it, in all its policies and programmes, actively to promote equality between all ethnic and racial groups. The key principles of the strategy are built into all Employment Service programmes, notably the New Deal. This programme is designed to take account of the particular needs of ethnic minorities, including Pakistani and Bangladeshi women, to ensure that ethnic minority young people have advice and support that meets their particular needs. The Employment Service issues multi-lingual publicity leaflets to publicise its programmes.

We also require Government-funded Training and Enterprise Councils to ensure that all sections (ie by ethnic group, gender and disability) of the eligible local population are fully represented on the programmes they run and the services they deliver. If not, the TEC must increase its participation by identifying and tackling whatever barriers exist to recruitment.

Following a recent Social Exclusion Unit report, the Government have set up an Action Team on jobs to look at the particular difficulties facing people from ethnic minorities looking for work and to identify better ways of helping into jobs people like Pakistani and Bangladeshi women, who face some of the toughest barriers to work. It will report to the SEU in July 1999.

Careers Services are also developing imaginative schemes to support ethnic minority women and prepare them to find suitable work. In Bradford, for example, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women are helped by the local Careers Service with information and advice, providing both reassurance and practical assistance, eg with language, to support entry for daughters onto work experience schemes. The local Careers Service also operates a mentoring scheme which draws upon the skills of experienced Pakistani and Bangladeshi community members to train and support young people into jobs.

I recognise that people from ethnic minorities face particular difficulties in moving from education into work. It is because we must find ways of overcoming them that I have made this an early priority for my advisory group, the Race Employment and Education Forum, which met for the first time on 20 October.