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Principal joins expert forum to tackle widening inequalities gap caused by Covid-19

Principal joins expert forum to tackle widening inequalities gap caused by Covid-19

Yvonne Kelly, Principal and CEO of Barking & Dagenham College (@BarkingCollege) has been invited to join a new UK Forum, which is bringing together experts from across education, employment and politics, to look at the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on widening the inequalities gap. 

The Forum, launched by Pearson, is tasked with reviewing and defining the crucial role that access to education, learning and skills can play in reducing this gap by restarting the economy and promoting social mobility. The Forum is chaired by Rt. Hon. Anne Milton, Minister of State for Education (2017-2019) and Minister for Women (2017-2018). 

 Yvonne Kelly, Barking & Dagenham College Principal and CEO

There is a wealth of new evidence highlighting the uneven and unequal economic impact of Covid across sectors and demographic groups, with the Bank of England reporting in March that impacted ‘sectors tend to have higher proportions of low paid workers, female workers, and there is a concentration by ethnicity as well’:  

  • Long-term (six months or more) youth unemployment has reached its highest point in five years (Institute for Employment Studies, April 2021) 
  • By January this year, according to a report by the TUC, the rate of unemployment among black, Asian and ethnic minority communities had risen from its overall average of 4.9% to 8.5% 
  • Excluding key workers, 80% in the bottom tenth of the earnings distribution are in sectors that have been forced to shut down or are unlikely to be able to do their job from home – compared with only a quarter of the highest-earning tenth. (Institute for Fiscal Studies, June 2020) 

Through a series of five evidence sessions, a range of expert witnesses have been invited to present to the Forum.  A final report will be published in November 2021, bringing together the evidence collected on how widening inequalities in the COVID period have impacted access to learning and the labour market, and setting out a roadmap for addressing this. 

Yvonne was delighted to be asked to become a member of the Forum, in order to work on such critical topics.  Yvonne says:

“Covid-19 has had such a devastating impact for so many and now on top of this, the evidence is pointing to the pandemic widening the already existing inequalities gap. We have to act now to ensure we can help stop the gap widening further and one way of doing this will be to make sure that there is access to education, to allow people the chance to train and learn the skills they need to start out or get back into work.” 

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