Is discrimination real?
A colleague told me about a graduate, nice and intelligent young man who asked him:
“Will the colour of my skin affect my job chances in your company?”
In Belgium, according to the third Socioeconomic Monitoring published in December 2017, (your) origin still largely determines (your) success in the labour market.
The report includes an inventory of the population aged between 18 and 64 and combines data on their origins and migration background with information about their position on the labour market in the period 2008-2014. “Its purpose is to get a clear view of the situation of those in the labour market depending on their origin and migration background.”
In 2014, the population aged between 18 and 64 counted 6.9 million people, 4.3 million of Belgian origin (62%), 2 million of foreign origin (around 30%).
In Brussels, roughly 27% of its inhabitants are of Belgian origin, 73% of foreign origin.
The employment rate of people of Belgian origin was 73%, compared with 46% for people from EU candidate countries (mainly from Turkey), 44.3% for people from Maghreb countries, 42.5% for people from sub-Saharan Africa, and 42.2% for people from a European country outside the EU.
For the first time, the variable “level of education” was included. Although the very difficult integration of the low-skilled into the labour market remains the biggest problem in Belgium, the report shows that a high level of education does not remove all inequities between employees of Belgian and foreign origin.
For people with a high level of education, but of non-EU origin, the employment rate is 10 percentage points lower than for employees of EU origin.
Higher achievement in the field of education, however, does not translate to the pay levels. Regarding employees with a high level of education: 57.4% of Belgian employees have a high wage, 30% for employees from Maghreb countries or from a candidate EU Member State.
The report confirms that people of foreign origin are overrepresented in sectors with irregular working hours and hard labour; sectors with the worst pay and with the most precarious working conditions (“interim” industry, construction, cleaning, hospitality, etc).
Regarding the immigration background, the report for instance shows that the unemployment rate among native-born who have at least one parent with a non-EU nationality at birth is about three times higher than those with two Belgian parents and four grandparents born with the Belgian nationality.
For those with at least one grandparent with a non-EU nationality at birth, the unemployment rate is about twice as high.
- EQUINET: Belgium – Socioeconomic Monitor 2017 – origin determines work opportunities
• “… The findings leave no doubt: there is no sign of equal opportunities, certainly not in terms of quality of work.
• Origin remains a determining factor in explaining the inequalities in the labour market…
• The Socioeconomic Monitor 2017 once again confirms that people of foreign origin are lagging far behind on the Belgian labour market.”
- 1.1: Etnostratification
“Ethnostratification refers to the phenomenon where your origin determines in which segment of the labour market you end up in.
The Monitor confirms that people of foreign origin are overrepresented in the employment sectors that pay the worse and that are the most precarious. Usually these are sectors with irregular working hours and hard labour.
Employees of foreign origin now have better access to the labour market, but the gap with employees of Belgian origin remains worryingly high, especially when the breakdown in sectors shows that equal opportunities are non-existent.”
- 1.2: Discrimination: “Same degree, same opportunity?”
“Even in the case of having the same diploma, origin largely determines the success on the labour market.
It is no surprise that the employment rate increases as the level of education increases… This favorable development is, however, much less pronounced in people of foreign origin.
[…] the report still shows that a high level of education does not remove all inequalities between employees of Belgian and foreign origin. For people with a high level of education, but of non-EU origin, the employment rate is 10 percentage points lower than for employees of EU origin. Unia Co-Director Els Keytsman emphasizes that “our economy is not able to make the most of everyone’s skills.”
- 2: EU Migration Network – National contact point for Belgium: Socioeconomic monitoring 2017 – Labour market and origin (Unia & FPS Employment)
“The third socioeconomic monitoring includes data from 2013-2014, includes new variables – such as the level of education – and themes – such as the public sector – to better understand participation in the labour market according to the origin.
The third socioeconomic report highlights the following:
• The image of a two-speed or two-tier labour market persists. The segmentation is linked to the level of qualification but there are differences – in terms of remuneration, stability – which can’t be explained.
• Non-EU highly qualified persons are to be found in sectors less remunerated than EU highly qualified persons.
• The differences in school performance levels according to the origin are exceptionally high.
• Education facilitates participation in the labour market but, with equal level of education, non-Belgian citizens do not participate in the labour market as much as Belgians do.
The report includes concrete recommendations in several domains, including the reform of the labour market, the inclusive education and the fight against discrimination.
African proverb: “Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it.”
Background information: As a migrant and global citizen born in Congo, I know how it feels like to be ready to conquer the world and never receive a call back from corporate Belgium. I am committed to Equity & Inclusion. I care about breaking the cycle on the waste of talents. With this blog (Talent Has No Race), my passion is to provide access to resources and opportunity by bridging with the corporate world.
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