Both the liberal democratic and the business rationale need to be clearly articulated in a coherent communications strategy. Almost half of adults are not functionally numerate and one sixth are not functionally literate." (Breen, 2006; p. 8) the problem presented is that more than 70% of the workforce in the UK for 2020 has already finished their educational requirements. Therefore, in order to eliminate any type of discrimination in the workforce for racial and gender minorities is to somehow even up the ante' within the present workforce. This presents quite a challenge however, the work of Breen (2006) relates that the Further Education White Paper (March 2006) "...underpins the ongoing reform of education and training structures in the UK." (Breen, 2006) There are stated to be 'six central themes' within this education and training structures ongoing reform which include:
5) Statistical data. Detailed statistical data is needed to pinpoint which groups require positive action and to evaluate the impact of programs that incorporate targets or timetables for such groups in quantitative terms.
6) Contract compliance. The experience from the U.S.A. (and to a lesser extent Canada) suggests that contract compliance is an effective positive action policy, changing key employers' practices with minimum pain and resistance and resulting in improved employment and retention rates amongst large corporations.
7) Covenants. The experience of the Netherlands suggests that the small-scale direct approach adopted for the Covenants that facilitate co-ordination between employers with vacancies and labor exchanges with access to ethnic minority jobseekers can increase ethnic minority employment rates.
8) Enforcement mechanisms. In addition to being clearly and coherently explained and defended, positive action policies need to be backed up by robust enforcement mechanisms if employers are to comply. These should entail mandatory goal-setting and vigorous enforcement, including sanctions (such as debarment), by government.
9) Availability index. The experience from the U.S.A. suggests that the creation of availability indices is an important mechanism for establishing who is qualified and potentially available for work.
10) Overseer. The experiences of the U.S.A. And Canada suggest that the creation of an institution responsible for overseeing contract compliance programs is crucial for the effective implementation of the policy.
11) Resources. The implementation of a contract compliance program needs to be well resourced.
12) Bureaucracy-light. The policies also need to be bureaucracy-light if employers are to embrace the scheme with any degree of enthusiasm. Too much red-tape places a particular burden on small employers, and may risk alienating employers generally.
13) Review. Positive action programs should be regularly reviewed in relation to effectiveness, business efficiency and fairness.
14) Supply-side. Ethnic minority education and job skills levels need to be addressed.
15) Religion. Positive action programs should consider both religious and ethnic minority equality measures. (Dhami, Squires and Modood, 2006)
The work of Cheung and Heath was recently focused on ethnic minority labor market participation and examined the extent to which ethnic penalties is applicable to members of minority groups. Ethnic penalties are defined by Cheung and Heath as "estimates of the extent to which ethnic minorities are disadvantaged in comparison with people belonging to the charter population who have the same age, educational qualifications and marital status." (in Dhami, Squires and Modood, 2006) Cheung and Heath worked with data form the 1991-2001 General Household Surveys and state findings that "first-generation visible minority men (African, Caribbean, Indian and Pakistani/Bangladeshi) had poorer chances of avoiding unemployment that did men of British ancestry of the same age and marital status and with similar educational qualifications." (Cheung and Heath; in Dhami, Squires and Modood, 2006) Cheung and Heath also stated findings that no significant difference in ethnic penalties experiences by first and second generation and that "at all levels of education the visible minorities had much higher probabilities of being unemployed than the charter population." (Dhami, Squires and Modood, 2006) However, findings are much different fro the second education in relation to access to salary, routine non-manual work and skilled manual work in that "where none of the visible minorities, male or female "experience a significant ethnic penalty in access to the higher classes. Cheung and Heath concludes "that second generation ethnic minorities appear to have similar chances of gaining access to the higher classes as do the charter population." (Dhami, Squires and Modood, 2006) Cheung and Heath's research findings suggest that "discrimination is a likely explanation for the ethnic penalties experienced by second-generation visible minorities in unemployment" in that while they have the same access to salary as do their peers they are less likely to get a job than their peers in the charter population.
II. REPORT of the EUROPEAN EMPLOYMENT OBSERVATORY
The work of Eleanor Breen entitled: "Contribution to the EEO Autumn Review 2006 'Flexicurity'" states that the term "flexicurity is rarely heard in UK policy debates." (Breen, 2006) the UK is stated to have "over a long period, fostered a dynamic and competitive economy based on flexible labor markets, flexible working arrangement and active labor market policies (ALMPs)." (Breen, 2006) Breen reports that the UK has in place "reliable and responsive ...
specialized system focused on employability;
system meeting the needs of learners and employers;
national strategy for teaching and learning in further education;
framework which spreads success and eliminates failure;
new relationship with colleges and providers; and Reforms to funding and support mechanisms. (Breen, 2006; p.9)
Breen relates that there are reforms which are "particularly significant" including "Train to Gain and the proposed Qualifications and Curriculum Framework (QCF)." Free training for employees to achieve a first full Level 2 is offered free to employees and introduces a unit-based qualification framework that is underpinned by a system of credit accumulation allowing individuals to build credits from all aspects of education and training and not only the National Qualifications Framework. Furthermore, the way towards employer-led skills training and qualification sis being led by Regional Skills Partnerships and Sector Skills Councils. (Breen, 2006; paraphrased)
The work of Dhami, Squires and Modood relates that clear benefits arise from a program of positive action and existing policy approaches have been limited in the redress of ethnic penalties which have been persistent in nature. The government must have a firm commitment to eradicate social exclusion in a legitimate and confident engagement with positive action programs including compliance with contracts. This type of policy implementation would "send the right signal to the intended beneficiaries and to those organizations and individuals that continue to deny ethnic groups and visible minorities their full part in the economic and social life of the country." (2006) Since forty years has passed since the very first Race Relations Act and "given that ethnic inequality continues to be a part of the social fabric of our country, the time is now right for such steps." (Dhami, Squires and Modood, 2006; p.17) Positive action policies have been useful in addressing "a wide range of inequalities, frequently focusing on minority groups but also including targeted majorities. The nature of the minority group targeted obviously depends on the nature of discrimination and social divisions in each society." (Dhami, Squires and Modood, 2006; p.18)
SUMMARY and CONCLUSION
It is clear that the necessary partnership between government, schools, colleges and universities and employers is required in order to assure Equal Employment Opportunities exist for British workers and as stated by Breen (2006) this should include the elements of a specialized system which has a focus on employability of all individuals with a system the meets the needs of both learners and employers. Third, a national strategy must be developed for teaching and learning to further education and as well a framework which drives success and eliminates failure is needed. Lastly, a new type of relationship must be formed with colleges and other education providers. The 'Train to Gain' and the 'Qualifications and Curriculum Framework' which has been proposed will work to offer free training for employees and unit-based qualification undergirded by a system of credit accumulation which enables individuals to build credits from all aspects of education and training other than that offered under the National Qualifications Framework. Finally, the Regional Skills Partnerships and Sectors Skills Council is working to lead the way towards skills training and qualification by employers to enhance employability among all British workers.
Cheung, S-Y. And Heath, a. (forthcoming), 'Nice Work if you can get it: ethnic minority Disadvantage in Great Britain'. In Heath, a. And Cheung, S.Y. (eds.) Unequal Chances: Ethnic Minorities in Western Labour Markets. Oxford: Oxford University…
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