Young Muslims living in the UK face an enormous social mobility challenge and are being held back from reaching their full potential at every stage of their lives, a report by the Social Mobility Commission (SMC) has found.
The report uncovers significant barriers to improved social mobility for young Muslims from school through university and into the workplace – with many reporting experience of Islamophobia, discrimination and racism.
Previous analysis by the independent SMC found that young people from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds are more likely than ever to succeed in education and go on to university than other groups – particularly girls.
But Muslims experience the greatest economic disadvantages of any faith group in UK society.
Within the economically active population (age 16 to 74 years) only 1 in 5 (19.8%) of the Muslim population is in full-time employment, compared to more than 1 in 3 (34.9%) of the overall population in England and Wales.
Muslim women in the UK are more likely than all other women to be economically inactive with 18% of Muslim women aged 16 to 74 recorded as “looking after home and family” compared with 6% in the overall population.
Only 6% of Muslims are in ‘higher managerial, administrative and professional occupations’ compared to 10% of the overall population. They also have slightly lower levels of qualifications, with approximately a quarter of Muslims over the age of 16 having degree-level and above qualifications.
Nearly half of the Muslim population (46%) live in the 10% of the most deprived local authority districts. This has implications for access to resources, school attainment, progression to higher education and the availability of jobs, including those at postgraduate or managerial levels. These inequalities vary by region, with the Midlands experiencing the largest margin of inequality and the South the smallest.