It is vital that work to tackle disparities and increase inclusivity in Bristol doesn’t fall by the wayside, warns the founder of Babbasa.
Speaking as the award-winning social enterprise publishes its Bridge to Equality report, Poku Osei says he recognises the economic challenges faced but stresses that businesses have a vital role to play in improving accessibility to jobs and helping to break down inequalities in the city.
The research highlights how the Covid-19 outbreak has exacerbated existing inequalities, increased feelings of isolation and had a detrimental impact on mental health.
It also reveals young people are feeling increasingly fearful about their future despite having high aspirations and the motivation to succeed.
Based in St Paul’s, Babbasa is a recent recipient of the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise and works to support young people from less-advantaged and ethnically diverse communities to achieve their professional ambitions.
The team commissioned the report to better understand the employment, enterprise and career support needs of young people, as well as the challenges for communities and employers.
It includes recommendations to help bridge the gaps to equality for young people in the city. These include businesses providing paid work opportunities and committing resources to address skills gaps and ensure workplaces are inclusive, promoting role models and recognising the benefits of mentoring, and developing mechanisms to provide support for people facing financial barriers to participation.
Babbasa’s founder and CEO, Poku Osei says the plan is to consult with community partners and city stakeholders and build a long-term plan of action.
This, he says, “would not only aim to provide young people with opportunities but also, empower them to support their families, serve as role models in their community and contribute to the growth of the Bristol economy.”
Poku adds: “The inevitable challenging economic impact of Covid-19 and existing economic disparities threaten to profoundly and disproportionately impact young people from ethnic minority backgrounds.
“We recognise the huge pressures on businesses – it is vital that progress on inclusivity doesn’t fall by the wayside and businesses continue to play a central role in tackling disparities in the workplace.”
The study was led by an independent consultant supported by a University of Bristol intern and Babbasa’s outreach team. Researchers undertook three separate surveys; one of people between the ages of 13 and 25, another of the wider community of residents, guardians and leaders over the age of 25, and a third survey of employers in the city.
The Covid-19 outbreak struck the UK just as the report was due to be published and additional research examines the impact of the pandemic on young people and their employment prospects.
Some key findings from the report include:
- 83 per cent of young people asked were prepared to put in extra effort to achieve their goal, yet only 23 per cent agreed that ‘young people where I live normally succeed in getting the career they want’.
- Knowing where to find good career advice and guidance is the biggest challenge for young people in pursuing their career goals.
- More than 80 per cent of employers say improving the diversity of their workforce is an important corporate objective, but only 14 per cent said they found it easy to recruit young people from a diversity of cultural backgrounds.
- While changes in education provision during lockdown had some positive impacts, the report highlights a clear risk that existing educational equality gaps will widen without early, targeted action.
Babbasa is hosting a consultation event with public sector and corporate partners on Wednesday, November 4. Find out more via www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bridgetoequality-corporate-stakeholder-event-tickets-123483373093.
All photos by Bhagesh Sachania Photography