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Study: British Bangladeshis do better at school, worse at work

  • Published at 10:09 pm January 3rd, 2017
Study: British Bangladeshis do better at school, worse at work

Bangladesh-origin Asians perform well at schools in Britain but their academic achievements are not well represented in the workplace, a new study has revealed. The UK’s Social Mobility Commission found that high achievements in school among many of Britain’s Muslim communities is not translating equally in the labour market.

“Achievements at school not being translated into labour market success is a broken social mobility promise,” said Alan Milburn MP, chair of the commission.

The ‘Ethnicity, Gender and Social Mobility’ report was commissioned by the Social Mobility Commission with research carried out by academics from LKMco and Education Datalab. It examines student’s trajectories as they progress through the early years, primary and secondary, through to sixth form and university. Finally, it looks at how attainment at school translates into the labour market.

Young people from Bangladeshi backgrounds are more likely to “succeed in education and go to university” but they are less likely to go on to "find employment or secure jobs in managerial or professional occupations", the report finds.

Bangladeshi women earn less than their counterparts from other ethnic minority groups, it adds.

Loic Menzies, Director of LKMco, said: “Our unique research aims to inform the research on how ethnicity, gender and background combine to impact on social mobility and further the debate by providing new insights and conclusions. “Achievement of a good degree has a profound impact on long-term social mobility, but there are huge differences in attainment between ethnic groups and men and women.”

Lead author Bart Shaw added, “A range of factors give rise to these differences and some require further research to understand specific issues. However, with regards to participation in the labour market, key factors include cultural, family and individual expectations, geography and direct/indirect discrimination.

“Meanwhile in education, differences arise from access to schools, teachers’ perceptions of behaviour and practices such as tiering and setting. Out of school factors such as parental expectations and support also play a critical role.”

The report found that there has been an increase in educational attainment for Bangladeshi origin pupils in the UK and their performance has improved at a more rapid rate than other ethnic groups in recent years at almost every key stage of education. Almost half of Bangladeshi young people from the poorest quintile go to university. However, this is not reflected in labour market outcomes, particularly for women, where researchers find that British Bangladeshi women earn less than their counterparts from other ethnic minority groups.

Despite achieving higher qualifications at school than their male counterparts, researchers also find that female Bangladeshi graduates are less likely to gain managerial and professional roles than male Bangladeshi graduates.

The commission has called on schools, universities and employers to provide targeted support to ensure these groups are able to achieve their career ambitions and progress in the workplace.

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