JOBCENTRES are linking up with local mosques in Oldham as part of their efforts to make sure people from all ethnic minority backgrounds are supported to find the work they want.

The new relationships are intended to build understanding about how Jobcentres can support people, from providing work experience and training to introductions to employers and help with applications.

While overall ethnic minority employment is at a record high, an ethnicity employment gap of 9.3 percentage points persists.

The government’s 2017 Race Disparity Audit also highlighted where many people from ethnic minorities were being left behind, missing out on work opportunities and support to get employment and training.

In addition, employment rates vary significantly between ethnic minority communities. The Indian community has the highest employment rate of ethnic minority groups at 76.9 per cent, meanwhile the black employment rate is 67.4 per cent and the Pakistani and Bangladeshi community rate is 56.7 per cent.

Employment Minister Alok Sharma said: “We are focused on helping people find the jobs they want, but too often people from certain ethnic minorities are missing out.

“By actively building relationships with local mosques, we can build up trust with the community and make sure they are getting the support that’s on offer.

“While we have record high ethnic minority employment, there is still an ethnicity employment gap that I am determined to close – good relationships between jobcentres and ethnic minority communities are vital if we are to have any chance at eliminating employment inequality.”

Amid the range of tailored initiatives, mosque leaders have been invited in to meet with the Jobcentre staff about the support on offer, as well as their advisers spending time based in mosques.

Since the start of the year, Oldham Jobcentre staff have been invited into the Greengate Mosque after Friday prayers. At the biggest weekly gathering for local muslim worshippers, they’ve been able to reach new audiences to promote the benefits of local apprenticeships and training opportunities and offer advice and support on benefits and getting into work.

While apprenticeships are generally known to be effective at supporting people into good work, just eight per cent of young people from ethnic minority backgrounds in Greater Manchester are taking up the opportunities.

Faz Afzal from Greengate Mosque in Oldham said: “The Jobcentre has managed to bring a good initiative into the Main Mosque of Oldham.

"This is a stepping stone of getting the youth on the career ladder, within a very close knit community. We are very privileged to be part of this project, that will help the youth to develop skills and progress towards stable employment. This project can be successful with ongoing support and guidance.”

This work sits alongside a range of other jobcentre initiatives to reach out to people in their community, including Jobcentre advisers working out of community centres, churches and libraries.

Nina Cioffi, from Oldham Jobcentre, said: “For some people, coming into the jobcentre can be daunting. But we want everyone to know all the ways we can help – from offering training to supporting people with their benefit claims.

“We want the relationship we’ve built with faith leaders to translate into trust with people in the community, so they can make the most of what we have to offer.”