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From 1971-present: the evolution of WSREC

26 Oct 2023 | Aneel Singh Bhopal

The West of Scotland Regional Equality Council (WSREC) were established in 1971 to represent the many needs of diverse racialised minority communities in Glasgow and surrounding areas. WSREC initially focussed their remit on casework, advocacy, and advice to support victims of racial discrimination. However, in recent years we have evolved our services to include the advancement of equal opportunities, other areas of service provision, employability, education, heritage, EDI training and consultancy, and enhancing civic participation. 

Currently, our work primarily focusses on supporting people from minority ethnic backgrounds, although we work with communities across all equality strands and take a strong, intersectional approach to our work.  

Our employability and training services provide a range of free support to minority ethnic individuals living or working in the West of Scotland, including Refugees and Asylum Seekers. We offer one-to-one support and capacity-building workshops, which provide help and guidance to those seeking access to employability pathways including modern apprenticeships, work placements, volunteering, education and paid employment. 

Given the significant racial inequalities that people from minority ethnic communities experience in Scotland, we recognise the necessity of our employability and training services. For example, the employment rate for BAME Scots is 15% lower than the White Scottish population and is significantly worse for BAME Scots women whose employment rate is 20% lower than White Scots women. On average BAME employees are paid 10% less than their white counterparts, further demonstrating this gulf in division.  

When taken into the wider context of the UK, the disparity in employment rate occurs despite educational attainment, which is generally lower in disadvantaged areas and often higher among racialised minority groups than it is amongst White British populations. However, despite this, evidence shows that this does not translate into favourable earnings or career progression amongst particular racialised minority communities. For example, 40% of African and 39% of Bangladeshi graduates are significantly overqualified for their roles. Some racialised minorities are also more likely to occupy low-income, precarious, low-quality and less regulated employment. 

BAME Scots are also much more likely to live in poverty, with a poverty rate of 38% for people who are Mixed, Black or Black British; and 34% for those who are Asian or Asian British, compared to 18% for White British people. It is therefore easy to see why institutional and societal racism, in its various guises and across different facets of everyday life, are becoming widely recognised as key factors in helping to explain why minority ethnic people continue to suffer from a disproportionate level of low-paid, poor-quality employment. It is also why young racialised minority people are struggling to translate educational attainment into well-paid, high-quality and secure employment on such a large scale.  

At WSREC, we seek to eliminate discrimination, support people in the attainment of their rights and remove barriers to participation in civic life.  

Until we begin to see the aforementioned disparities significantly lessen, it is clear that ourselves, partners, employers and educators from across the country have plenty of work to do to help create a more fair and just society for all, irrespective of their race or ethnicity.   

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