Windrush Generation: employment and socioeconomic factors

Business in the Community (BITC) has been working with the University of Birmingham and Queen Mary University to conduct new analysis into the current employment and socioeconomic factors experienced by the Windrush generation.

In 1948, the HMT Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks with passengers from Jamaica and other British Commonwealth Caribbean islands. Over the next 20 years, others followed to help address post-war UK labour shortages. Collectively they have been labelled the Windrush generation. Business in the Community (BITC) has been working with specialists from the University of Birmingham and Queen Mary University to conduct new analysis of data collected as part of our Race at Work surveys. The results examine the legacy of these migrants to the UK and their representation within certain industries.

New analysis of the Race at Work Survey

The Race at Work Survey is produced in partnership with YouGov and designed to find out what is happening in the UK’s workplaces. The data is used to help produce Business in the Community’s (BITC) scorecard reports. The most recent, Race At Work 2021: The Scorecard Report, examines the progress being made across the employer landscape against the recommendations of Race in the workplace: The McGregor-Smith Review.

For this analysis, BITC has been working closely with Professor Ian Thomson, University of Birmingham and Professor Nelarine Cornelius, Queen Mary University on a longitudinal study and thematic analysis of the Race at Work surveys of 2015, 2018 and 2021. The rich unique data sets, provide never before seen insight into the world of work for employees from every census demographic group in the UK by gender, sector, location, age and other intersectional factors. Here they have focused on examining UK employees from Caribbean backgrounds, highlighting the legacy of the Windrush generation to the UK and their representation within certain industries.

BITC members can also log in to MyBITC to access The Windrush Generation at Work in the UK: 74 years on briefing paper.

Windrush Generation: employment and socioeconomic factors

The sectors where people from Caribbean backgrounds are most likely to be employed are:

Top five private sector

  • Retail: 26%.
  • IT and telecoms: 23%.
  • Medical and health services (private): 20%.
  • Transportation and distribution: 19%.
  • Banking: 18%.

Top five public sector

  • NHS: 39%.
  • Primary/secondary education: 30%
  • Local government: 26%
  • Civil Service: 24%
  • Further education: 11%
Recommended actions for policymakers and employers

We need ethnicity pay gap reporting to ensure that there is transparency of employee pay. This is now in sharper focus in the light of the cost-of-living crisis which is set to hit the lowest-paid employees the hardest.

  1. Employers should examine the ethnicity pay gap, for all their employees, and examine their employees from a Caribbean background pay for disparities at management, professional and senior levels.
  2. Employers should implement mentoring and sponsorship opportunities and include their employees from a Caribbean background.
  3. Employers should be transparent about the pay range on job adverts, and as a minimum, award employee pay within the advertised range.

Tackling the ethnicity pay gap will support the Windrush generation and their descendants, as well as other Black, Asian, Mixed Race and other ethnically diverse groups. BITC’s Race at Work Charter contains seven commitments which will help you address this issue and improve equality of opportunity in your workplace.

MAKE RACE EQUALITY A PRIORITY