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Section 4: Assessment


There are considerable differences in the characteristics and circumstances of people within and across different minority ethnic groups. This will affect their employability in different ways.  Differences in labour market outcomes within and across groups can be related to:

  • discrimination - unequal treatment by employers related to race, colour or religion;
  • different levels of education and training;
  • where people live - whether they live in areas with lower levels of employment and fewer job opportunities;
  • gender, disability and age;
  • for refugees and migrants, different levels of English language fluency; and
  • different cultural factors which affect likelihood of participating in the labour market. 

It is important not to have preconceptions about clients just because they come from a specific community and therefore person - centred and holistic assessment is a critical part of the work.   

Data Collection

The assessment process can be enhanced by including questions which elicit specific information to improve support for minority ethnic clients.  Bridges Programmes, which works with refugees and migrants, has a comprehensive data collection process which helps them provide appropriate support to clients with a range of different backgrounds and needs.  Useful questions include:

  • How do you pronounce your name? Or are you known by another name?
  • Are you here with your family?
  • If you have a partner does he/she want information about the Programme?
  • Are you receiving benefits?

They also record:

  • Nationality
  • Ethnicity
  • Current status (for example if someone is still going through asylum process)
  • Whether someone has PVG
  • Whether the client is registered with other agencies
  • Education in country of origin and education in the UK
  • Language skills
  • Job history, both in country of origin and the UK
  • Any membership of a professional body

The full data collection form can be accessed on the Employability in Scotland website.

Assessing Status

Refugees, asylum seekers and migrants can all benefit from employability support.  Most have rights to work as detailed below.   

  • Refugees are people whose application for asylum have been accepted by the government and recognised as needing protection under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. People who have refugee status, Indefinite Leave to Remain, Humanitarian Protection or Discretionary Leave to Remain have the same rights to work and benefits as anyone else.
  • Asylum seekers are people who are not yet recognised as a refugee under the 1951 Convention. It is a human right to seek asylum in another country. Some asylum seekers have permission to work, generally if they have waited over a year for their initial decision on whether they have been given leave to remain in the UK. 
  • Migrants are people who come to Scotland looking for work. It is generally expected that migrants will be able to support themselves without any support from public funds. Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Slovakian, Slovenian Bulgarian and Romanian nationals do not need to obtain permission before they work in the UK. People who are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and who are applying for leave to remain (or to extend leave to remain) do not have access to benefits like income based Jobseekers Allowance, income support, tax credits and housing benefit.  From 1 January 2014 all EU jobseekers will have to wait for 3 months before they can apply to claim income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA). After 3 months, migrants will also have to take a test if they want to claim income-based JSA.

The UK Border Agency provides more information on this.

Assessing Skills

Assessing skills is a critical part of the assessment process for all employability services.  However, some of the people we spoke to in the course of producing the toolkit said that it can be difficult to identify skills because some people from minority ethnic backgrounds are not used to talking about their skills. Holistic assessment to identify people's skills, talents, educational background as well as their needs is appropriate.  Often people from minority ethnic groups are not used to presenting themselves and this needs to be brought out so that this can go into their CVs.  Clients can find it difficult to identify their transferable skills.  A full and skilful assessment and is needed to establish these.  

Bridges Programmes in Glasgow carry out an extensive skills audit with clients to assess skills in a range of areas including: communication - written and spoken; working with numbers; information technology; and practical and other skills.
The Bridges skills audit tool is available on the Employability in Scotland website.

Bridges also use the Reflection Toolkit to help people reflect on their learning which can be useful in assessment.  This is an open resource developed by Bridges and the Open University available on the Open Univeristy website.

Assessing Qualifications

If clients have existing qualifications from overseas these can be assessed through obtaining information about how they relate to Scottish qualifications. There are different ways of doing this.

The National Recognition Information Centre for the UK (UKNARIC) databases provide information about vocational, academic and professional skills and qualifications from all over the world. This can provide clarity about the skills and qualification levels held by clients. 

Access to the online databases is through membership packages for 12, 24 or 36 months.              

The Open University's open credit transfer can be useful to start the process of understanding overseas qualifications. 

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Key Points

1. There are considerable differences in the characteristics and circumstances of people within and across different minority ethnic groups, therefore it is important not to have any preconceptions about clients just because they have a minority ethnic background.
2. Client profiling and assessment tools should be effective in eliciting all of the information needed to provide an holistic assessment needed to develop appropriate support.