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Employment Opportunities (Ethnic Minorities)

Volume 449: debated on Wednesday 19 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps are being taken to promote opportunities for (a) women and (b) men of ethnic minority origin to gain employment in (i) Coventry, South and (ii) the West Midlands. (83418)

I have been asked to reply.

We are committed to helping all those who may be disadvantaged in the labour market. Specifically, we have a public service agreement target to

‘Increase the employment rate of ethnic minorities and significantly reduce the difference between the overall employment rate and that of ethnic minorities’.

Support for people from ethnic minorities is provided locally through Jobcentre Plus, which offers employment services to all people of working age. For those furthest from the labour market and who are not using Jobcentre Plus services, our Ethnic Minority Outreach programme also offers the opportunity for people to find and keep work. Since its introduction Ethnic Minority Outreach has achieved over 10,000 successful job outcomes.

On 11 July we announced the launch of a new independent body to help ethnic minorities find work. The Ethnic Minority Advisory Group, which is made up of 22 representatives from across the ethnic community, has been set up as part of the Government’s welfare reform agenda to boost employment opportunities for ethnic minorities.

The new advisory group will be a way of getting to the heart of the community and finding out the best ways to close the employment gap. To do this, we will work in partnership, focussing on what will work for local communities.