Young, Gifted, Black and Unemployed

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2012 National Black Members' Conference
21 September 2011

Conference believes that the level of unemployment amongst young Black people in the UK is a disaster. The current economic crisis has had a severe effect on the livelihoods and futures of Black workers, especially young Black workers. Research has shown that since the recession started, an alarming 48% of young Black people are currently unemployed, compared to 20% of white youths of the same age range.

This level of youth unemployment is a tragic waste of talent, vigour, and enthusiasm. It could represent a lost generation for whom our economy and our society offers little opportunity or hope. Black young people are paying disproportionately for the economic crisis that happened through no fault of theirs.

Unemployment is widely recognised as a major life event, and high levels of unemployment do not just affect those unemployed but breeds fear of losing their jobs in those still employed. Unemployed Black young people interviewed by Roots research reported feelings of stress, depression and worthlessness as a result of being out of work.

Conference notes that young Black children are still confronted with low expectations and face the challenges of poverty and racism. The Government’s policies on access to higher education has built further barriers to their futures, closing off the avenue traditionally seen by many Black people as a way of softening the effect of racist discrimination in the workplace

Young Black people are not only the future of our community but also the future of the trade union movement. We must be at the forefront of responding to their concerns and their aspirations and helping them shape their future.

Conference welcomes the work the National Black Members’ Committee is doing in partnership with Operation Black Vote on young Black people and believes this partnership should be built on to help UNISON respond to this crisis our young Black people are facing. .

Conference calls on the NBMC in consultation with the National Young Members Forum to:

1.Organise events to reach out to young Black people within our communities.

2.Produce resources to support the planned work with young Black people.

3.Encourage Black members to publicise events and resources to young people in their communities.

4.Organise campaigns with young Black people to demand no cuts in youth services, to reverse any closure of existing services and to call for job creation in local areas.

5.Encourage Black members to promote the new UNISON resources on Challenging racism within the workplace and in the wider community.