JOB PROSPECTS: Alok Sharma (left)

EMPLOYMENT minister Alok Sharma has said he is com­mitted to helping more peo­ple from a BAME background get jobs as he hosted a meeting to understand the challenges facing some ethnic minorities. Sharma noted that while the employment rate was high among black, Asian and mi­norities (BAME), he was “per­sonally dedicated to pushing progress forward”. Earlier last week, 20 repre­sentatives from organisations working to increase BAME employment met Sharma to discuss how to help young people and women from mi­nority backgrounds get jobs. Sharma said: “It’s impor­tant we learn from some of the best examples and make the most of the talent out there. We are all working to­wards the same goal – open­ing up work opportunities for those who are under-repre­sented in the labour market.” The BAME employment rate has risen by 6.4 percent­age points since 2010. Black, African and Carib­bean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi, and Indian groups have seen rises in the rates of em­ployment since 2010 with growths of 9.5, 8.5 and 6.1 per­centage points respectively. “We’ve made good pro­gress, with the BAME employ­ment rate at an all-time high, but I am absolutely deter­mined to make faster progress in closing the current ethnic minority employment gap,” Sharma said. After becoming prime min­ister in July 2016, Theresa May announced a race audit, which highlighted challenges some communities faced as well as helped develop policy to address the issues. Working with Business in the Community, the Depart­ment of Work and Pensions launched a pilot mentoring programme in Peckham, south London, last Monday (18). The sessions offer job seek­ers six hours of face-to-face interaction with an employer, practical help with applica­tion forms and CVs, as well as help with interview skills.