Following the social mobility commission report in 2017 on the social mobility challenges faced by young Muslims we found that there was no follow up or concrete actions taken to work towards addressing this issue. So we conducted our own survey addressed to young Muslims between the ages 16-24 .
We got 77 responses and below you will find a breakdown of the responses and findings.
80% of respondents were based in London with the remaining 20% spread across various locations in UK.
We find that there are a lack of professional Muslim role models in the workplace that young Muslims can access. Online platforms provide a great way to get access to these individuals and it was one of the most common ways mentioned by the 42.5% who answered yes to having access to professional Muslim role models. Family/friends however was the overwhelming majority and we know from other research that a significant number of Muslims are based in the 10% most deprived local authority districts* and coming from a lower socio-economic background usually translates to poorer access networks, resources and contacts so the question remains how many professional individuals do those young Muslims who answered yes get access to and are they getting high quality information from them to make better informed career decisions?
We find when it comes to professional Muslim role models there is no real mechanism to access them for young Muslims. For Females this is more of an issue than it is for Males. Whilst there are certainly inspiring Muslim Women in the workplace, there perhaps isn’t enough visibility on online platforms such as social media. Getting access through online methods was the most common response from the respondents in how they would like to get more access to Muslim professionals. There certainly is a need to have more positive professional Muslim role models that are accessible and online/social media platforms provides a great opportunity to bring careers stories, insight and advice from Muslim professionals to young Muslims.
The vast majority of responses cited family and friends and online research for how they go about seeking careers support, older siblings also play a significant role especially where parents are first generation immigrants and haven’t themselves gone through the UK education system or have worked in a professional occupation. In this case there is a lot of responsibility on the siblings to be that support. For young Muslims where there are older siblings who may not be in professional occupations or the individual is the first in their family to make the transition from education to employment it can be more challenging getting the career support they need.
Only 6% of Muslims are in ‘higher managerial, administrative and professional occupations’ compared to 10% of the overall population (The Muslim Council of Britain, 2015). There needs to be more avenues of support and access to information that can help young people make a smoother transition from education to employment.
*Based on the Index of Multiple Deprivation measure, 46% or 1.22 million of the Muslim population live in the 10% most deprived local authority districts (The Muslim Council of Britain, 2015)
We found that mentoring was a very common response in how young Muslims feel they could be supported when it comes to employment and making applications. Insight into careers and work experience was another common response and we know this helps young people to get real exposure to what a career is like which helps them make better informed career decisions. General support with interviews, CVs and applications is also something commonly known to help with making successful applications.
A lack of informal networks and financial, social, cultural resources or soft skills makes it more difficult for some young Muslims to access and progress in the labour market. This is particularly compounded by a lack of access to paid or unpaid internships or work experience. (The Social Mobility Challenges Faced by Young Muslims)
There is a need to facilitate a form of structured mentoring between Muslim professionals and young Muslims.
Here are some responses on the right when prompted for further comments as to why they think this.
Here are some responses below when prompted for further comments as to why they think this.
A lack of informal networks and financial, social, cultural resources or soft skills makes it more difficult for some young Muslims to access and progress in the labour market. This is particularly compounded by a lack of access to paid or unpaid internships or work experience. (The Social Mobility Challenges Faced by Young Muslims).
Going by the data above, and the summary of the social mobility report which states young Muslims from poorer backgrounds experience lack of access to networks, contacts and resources. This is further exacerbated by their parents’ experiences of higher levels of underemployment and unemployment, particularly where their qualifications were not recognised in the UK, which limited or denied financial stability and security. Research consistently shows a link between between socio-economic background and career progression and how this has less to do with ability and everything to do with access to informal advice and guidance, networks and contacts, and the confidence that goes with that.
As a starting point we believe young Muslims need access to Muslim role models in the workplace who can give a real insight into their careers and share their advice on how to navigate the career journey in their profession as well as advice on making successful applications. This will help towards building confidence and belief in our young Muslims that they can go on to achieve success in their careers without having to compromise their faith and identity.
There is a lot more to be done in this space especially in light of the COVID-19 impact on jobs impacting young people significantly. We want to build a voice for young Muslims in the space of careers support as part of the wider social mobility challenges they face. Through the podcast and our social media platforms we also want to build engagement with young Muslims to redefine how we view careers as a Muslim with a focus on barakah culture and excellence.
Going forward we want to look at how we can facilitate mentoring between Muslim professionals and young Muslims as well as explore employer engagement opportunities.
We realise there needs to be more research in this space to really deepen our understanding of the social mobility challenges young Muslims are facing, not just with careers support but other factors such as family influence, well-being, socio-economic status, challenges with faith and identity, islamophobia and measuring the impact of COVID-19. The social mobility report on the challenges young Muslims face was a great starting point and touched upon a lot of factors. Similar to the Youth Voice Consensus 2020 and The Role of Family in social mobility reports developed by Youth Employment UK Charity:
1) Research on a Muslim youth voice consensus should be conducted to deepen our understanding so we can work towards real solutions for our community.
Other research has also shown that many young Muslims have a concern about working in environments where they feel they won’t fit in and worry about facing situations where they feel their faith may be compromised such as not having a suitable place to pray or being in an environment where the social gatherings and informal networking events largely consist of involving alcohol which excludes them from participating and considering working in those workplaces.
2) A Muslim youth friendly standard should be created that helps to educate employers on how they can make young Muslims feel more included and feel a sense of belonging to an organisation. This will help employers to develop inclusive practises for young Muslims and also help young Muslims to settle quicker and perform better in organisations.