Zamila Bunglawala: Muslims have much to offer the UK labour market

From a speech by the policy analyst from the Open Society Institute at a Work Foundation lunch in London
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Muslims are the most disadvantaged religious group in the British labour market. Muslims make up 3 per cent of the population of England and Wales, the largest religious minority group. Over 60 per cent are Pakistani or Bangladeshi.

Muslims are the most disadvantaged religious group in the British labour market. Muslims make up 3 per cent of the population of England and Wales, the largest religious minority group. Over 60 per cent are Pakistani or Bangladeshi.

Muslims will account for over a quarter of the growth in the working-age population over the next 10 years. This is indicative of the demographic changes in the UK workforce. They therefore represent a significant resource for the UK economy. The benefits of this are tackling child poverty; inaction will further social exclusion and unemployment.

One third of Muslim men and two-thirds of Muslim women are not in work. Of those who are in work, most are marginalised in ethnic-based industries and are under-represented in the higher professions.

Islamic teachings do not stop a woman from working. Cultural sensitivity is required when addressing labour-market entry for Muslim women. Greater responsibility by the Muslim community in this area is also required. A growing number of British Muslim women want to work; in this they are no different from many other women. But to enable this to happen, employers must meet their obligations under the new religious discrimination law and ensure they are prepared for a more diverse workforce.

A partnership between central and local government and current and future generations of Muslims will ensure that Muslims can play a part in the present and future economic success of the UK.

Comments