The participation of Black and minority ethnic graduates in science, engineering and technology occupations in the Northwest of England
Booth, KM, Takruri-Rizk, H, Welamedage, L and Mansi, K 2008, 'The participation of Black and minority ethnic graduates in science, engineering and technology occupations in the Northwest of England' , in: The Fourth Education in a Changing Environment Conference Book 2007 , Informing Science Press, Santa Rosa, California, USA, pp. 331-352.
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Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) have been at the heart of government policy priorities for many decades because of its contribution to the economy and exploitation of the science base is key to improving productivity and growing the market in the Northwest (NWDA, 2006). Against this, black and minority ethnic (BME) groups are projected to account for half the growth in the working age population between 1999 and 2009 and are generally over-represented in SET at undergraduate level in comparison to their white counterparts. It is therefore important that the region makes particular efforts to develop and retains its BME SET graduates. This paper presents findings from a European Social Funded (ESF) funded project looking at issues relating to the par-ticipation of BME students and graduates in SET degrees and occupations in the Northwest. The study was conducted via survey questionnaires and interviews with undergraduates, graduates and employers. We found that although the desire of BME under-graduates and the actual participation of BME graduates in SET careers at least equaled the aspirations and decisions of their White counterparts BME undergraduates were more likely to want to leave the region and more BME than White graduates had done so. The BME undergraduates in our study expressed considerable concern about whether or not their ethnicity would affect their career prospects although few of our BME graduates, who were primarily employed in large organisations, had actually experienced it. Employers in our survey on the one hand reported few applications from ethnic minority graduates and, on the other hand, the majority admitted that they use informal methods to recruit for available vacancies. Companies had a very varied range of equal opportunities and career development policies and practices with large employers being the most proactive. We therefore conclude that a lack of awareness of employment opportunities in the region and a limited number of employers with well developed career development policies discourages potential applicants.
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