Research by Prospects at Jisc has shown many graduates feel their ethnic background, social class or gender are holding them back in the jobs market. The survey is based on responses from 2,000 graduates. It asked graduates how prepared they were for work and whether they felt they had any disadvantage when applying for jobs.

It found that 43 per cent of ethnic minority graduates felt they were disadvantaged in the job application process compared to just 8 per cent of white graduates. African, Caribbean, or Black British respondents (51 per cent) and Asian or Asian British respondents (49 per cent) were most likely to say this.

Female graduates were more than twice as likely (10 per cent) than their male counterparts (4 per cent) to say they were disadvantaged due to their gender when applying for jobs. They were also more likely to say they were unprepared for work (32 per cent) than male graduates (25 per cent).

Meanwhile a fifth of graduates said they were set back because of their social class. Respondents whose parents didn’t go to university were more likely to say they felt disadvantaged (24 per cent) than those with parents who had attended university (15 per cent).

While the survey found 13 per cent of people with a disability or health condition and 14 per cent who identify as neurodivergent felt disadvantage, there were fewer reports of people feeling hindered because of their sexual orientation (5 per cent). Prospects also found that people with a disability felt less prepared for work (42 per cent) than those without (26 per cent). Neurodiverse graduates were also more likely to feel unprepared (36 per cent) than those who identify as neurotypical (27 per cent).

Chris Rea, a graduate careers expert for Prospects at Jisc commented: “It’s clear that many graduates feel the jobs market is stacked against them and this could negatively affect their motivation to apply for jobs as well as the type of roles they go for.

“While students may not think the job application process is fair, that doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t. Employers need to hire more diverse candidates, and many are aware the impact the hiring process can have. These findings show how important it is to review application processes to ensure that they are transparent and accessible to all.”

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