Encourage young black people into skilled trades for a fairer society

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While arts, history and criminal justice are important, a glaring omission in your panel’s suggestions on creating a fairer society is the failure to encourage young black people into skilled technical work (What one change would you make to achieve black equality in Britain? Our panel writes, 29 October). Athena Kugblenu’s point about permitting mediocrity should be expanded to encourage access to the well-paid work of the upper-ordinary.

There is a larger absence of black faces in practical trades such as carpentry, electrics and refrigeration as well as desk-based technical roles than in the areas championed by the panel. The UK has a skills shortage in almost every technical area and there seems to be a blind spot in the media, academia and education on the social and economic imbalance that this creates for race and gender.

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These are economic zones that are not difficult to self-select into. First steps are frequently not obstructed by unnecessarily high academic thresholds, and earning while learning is often the norm, providing wages not debt while training.

I acknowledge that racism remains across many sectors of the economy and society, but snobbery towards trades and technical work is perennial, and ethnic minorities and women are paying a high price for not receiving the notice that these sectors want them yesterday.
Tim Walker
Yardley Hastings, Northamptonshire

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