Three quarters of employers haven’t hired from disadvantaged groups, such as young people without qualifications, ex-offenders or older workers, in the last three years.
This is according to research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and professional services firm KPMG, which also found that one third of employers actively exclude some disadvantaged groups from their recruitment process.
However, this was an improvement on a previous CIPD survey in 2005, which found that 62% of companies did not consider applications from one or more of the disadvantaged groups.
Ex-offenders were the most likely to have their applications turned down, with nearly one fifth (19%) of employers excluding applications from this group.
Applications from young people aged 18 and under with few or no qualifications were not considered by 16% of companies, and employers considered this group to be the worst performing.
However, the research also found that a third of employers would be more likely to recruit from these groups if the Government did more to improve their employability, such as co-funding paid internships.
Gerwyn Davies, CIPD public policy adviser, said: “Employer reluctance to recruit from groups who have faced barriers to employment shows that the Government still faces a huge challenge in getting more economically inactive benefit claimants – especially those with a criminal record – off welfare and into work.”
He added that the extent of exclusion was not always justified by the potential of the target group and employers with experience employing ex-offenders consider them to be as productive as other workers and, in some cases, more loyal than the rest of the workforce.