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London's transport sector comes together for diversity

SPEAKING OUT: Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement, Matthew Ryder

THE CAPITAL'S largest employers, the London transport sector, came together at City Hall on Friday 17 November in an effort to break barriers for young people from BAME backgrounds in starting sustainable careers in the industry.

Hosted by Loraine Martins, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Network Rail, the event looked at ways in which employers can transform outreach, recruitment and progression practices to build a more diverse employee base.

As part of the event, employers were asked to sign up to a Diversity in Transport Pledge: which outlines a commitment to promote diversity internally by appointing senior champions and encourage peer to peer mentoring; to provide access to structured work experience opportunities and/or quality apprenticeships; and to work in partnership to drive meaningful change.

Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement, Matthew Ryder, said: “London’s greatest strength is its diversity and it is incredibly important that we encourage employers across the capital to ensure their workforce reflects the city it serves. At a time when young people need more support to access skills and job opportunities on their doorstep, it is vital we provide opportunities to engage with employers and work with experts and stakeholders from business and civil society to promote the highest standards of equality, diversity and inclusion in work.”

Research shows that young people and those from BAME communities are under-represented in the sector’s work force. Unemployment of young people is higher in London than anywhere else in the UK and young people from BAME communities are twice as likely to be unemployed and almost twice as likely to live in relative poverty as their white counterparts.

The diversity in transport initiative is an outcome of the ‘En-Route to Sustainable Employment’ project, delivered by the Mayor’s Fund for London, and in partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The project aims to increase the number of BAME young people building sustainable careers. Through an integrated and employer-led model, the project aims to drive social mobility of young Londoners from BAME backgrounds whilst supporting business objectives of the employer.

Dr. Debbie Weekes-Bernard, Policy and Research Manager, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: "Having commitment from employers to increase support of young people from minority ethnic and low-income groups forms an important part of reducing the high rates of poverty that exist among these communities.

|Across the UK, there are many people from some minority ethnic groups trapped in low pay in sectors in which there are few opportunities to progress. Employers, working with training providers and organisations providing employment support, can tackle head-on those barriers to work and progression that many BAME young people face, by ensuring they can access good quality jobs, with clear routes of progression and access to training. The Diversity in Transport Pledge goes a long way to providing the support employers need to be able to do this work well."

As part of the work with the transport sector, a core group of employers (Stagecoach, Network Rail, Eurostar, Ngaged, South Western Railway, Transport for London) were consulted to develop the Diversity in Transport Pledge.

Suzanne Hardy, Social Sustainability Manager, Network Rail said: “Network Rail is pleased to have been involved in this initiative. We have benefited from having talented people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, who would not have considered working in rail without the Diversity in Transport Pledge. Now a number of the young people have jobs with us, and are thriving in our organisation.”

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