Council accused of discrimination after refusing white job applicants

June 1, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

A council has been accused of positive discrimination after it refused to accept applications from white people for two £18,000-a-year jobs.

Bristol City Council (BCC) has created the graduate training posts in a bid to recruit more minority employees.

This means that only people from ethnic minorities are allowed to apply for the two-year placements, which are worth £18,000-a-year.

However, the decision to ban white people from applying for the jobs has sparked criticism from graduates who are struggling to find work.

One white jobseeker, who did not wish to be named, has described the ethnic minority posts as ”totally racist” and ”discriminatory”.

He said: ”I am a tolerant white person who has lived in Bristol for 27 years.

”I am searching for a job and stumbled across a job advertisement of Bristol City Council’s website that I see as totally racist.

”I feel the job itself would be an excellent opportunity for me to make use of the skills and qualifications that I have acquired but being white I am excluded from applying for the post.

”Surely equal opportunities means giving everyone an equal chance to succeed rather than discriminating against people because of the colour of their skin.”

The two jobs are described on BCC’s website as ”open to black and minority ethnic graduates” only, with applications closing on June 11.

The job description reads: ”We are looking for two enthusiastic graduates with a degree in any discipline to undertake a two-year management training programme at Bristol City Council.

”You should have a strong interest in the delivery of local public services, be able to take the initiative and have the confidence to relate to people at all levels within the Council.

”The traineeship will involve rotating placements in different services of the City Council where you will be where you will be given ‘on the job’ training and undertake projects including policy and research work.

”You will need to be flexible and able to learn quickly in changing environments.

”The successful candidates will be offered a postgraduate diploma in Management Studies, a tax free training allowance and mentoring and support throughout the traineeship.”

BCC has a total of 9,000 members of staff, not counting teachers, of which 8,370 are white and 630, or seven per cent, are from ethnic minorities.

Because 12 per cent of Bristol residents come from minority backgrounds the council has begun searching for more employees to redress this imbalance.

James Easey, spokesman for BCC, revealed that advertising for ethnic minority only posts is not racist due to a provision under the Race Relations Act.

He said: ”This is the third year of running the traineeship and it was started because of the marked under-representation of ethnic minority people in the council’s workforce.

”The normal recruitment process was not rectifying this unacceptably low trend so there was a strong case for this small positive recruitment traineeship for two ethnic minority graduates a year.

”We have a workforce of more than 9,000 employees, excluding school staff, so this is a small training programme.

”Graduates from any ethnic background are open to apply for the national graduate local government programme which we recruit from every year – we have just recruited two graduates in this way.”

Section 37 of the Race Relations Act 1976 states that if a racial group is under-represented councils can offer training to people from that group.

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