FE missing out on BAME talent POLICYVIEW By Rajinder K Mann

It’s nearly two decades since the Commission for Black Staff in Further Education published its report setting out clear recommendations to improve progression for black and minority ethnic (BAME) staff in the sector.

In 2017 the McGregor-Smith Review into Race in the Workplace found that if BAME talent is fully utilised, the economy could receive a £24 billion boost each year. It is projected that by 2030, the proportion of the working age population from the BAME communities will be nearly 20 per cent. The business case for diversity is clear. Yet there remains a paucity of senior black leaders across both the public and private sectors, illustrating the urgent need for developing BAME succession planning strategies. BAME students comprise around 25 per cent of 16 to 18-year-olds and 32 per cent of adults in FE. Figures from previous Education and Training Foundation (ETF) Workforce Surveys indicate that around 11 per cent of FE staff are of BAME background, falling to less than nine per cent of senior managers. FE is certainly no worse than many other sectors in absolute terms. But, while the FE sector is a melting pot for learner diversity, students don’t see BAME role models reflected in the staffing profile, especially in leadership roles. The sector is missing out on black talent. Since the demise of the Network for Black and Asian Professional (NBAP)

four years ago, the race agenda has slipped down FE’s list of priorities. There is no-one holding the sector to account. More importantly, there is no representative body which can support black staff in times of need, not only advocating the moral, social and economic case for diversity but also challenging and championing the case for race equality. In order to tap into the pool of BAME talent, sector organisations

need to nurture, develop and retain BAME staff. They need to reflect on whether they are just paying ‘lip service’, or whether they are genuinely inclusive organisations. Setting clear, robust targets with timescales and learning from the good practice on gender equality would ensure the development of future BAME leaders.

The launch of the Diversity in Leadership programme by the ETF and the Association of Colleges (AoC) promises to begin redressing many of these issues. I welcome the programme’s workshops on unconscious bias training for organisations, mentoring and coaching for aspiring black staff, and support to help the sector develop more inclusive workplaces. The sector as a whole needs to address issues around diversity. Given the daily headlines of polarisation and intolerance in our politics this matter is all the more urgent. For more information on the ETF and AoC Diversity in Leadership

programme turn to page 5. Rajinder K Mann is the former chief executive of the Network for Black and Asian Professionals.


What strikes me when looking back at SET’s achievements in 2019 is how we are maturing as an organisation.

Our engagement with members has deepened, guided by ideas and input from our Practitioner Advisory Group (PAG), through events such as the SET Local Network Groups. We are also supportive of other networks, such as UKFEChat and FEResearchMeets, and the valuable work they do. This is strengthened by growth in the number of providers becoming SET Corporate Partners, and we have expanded our SET Management Board (SMB) to cement our engagement with the sector. In particular, I am delighted to welcome our new SMB chair, Major Jim Crompton, and vice chair Dr Barbara Van der Eecken (see page 5). But, above all, it is the memory of

the SET Conference in Birmingham that I will carry with me into the festive season. Seeing so many members engaged in discussions, panel presentations and workshops was as inspiring as it was humbling (see pages 24-27 for a full report). Whatever else 2020 holds for us, I know SET can count on great things from members across the country as they lead the charge for professionalism and higher standards.

Martin Reid is director of SET. inTUITION ISSUE 38 • WINTER 2019 7

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