Study Charts a New Course for Young Black Men in Bermuda
For Immediate Release
January 13, 2010
New York, NY – While black males in Bermuda have higher employment-population ratios than their same age peers, they are less likely to be enrolled in secondary or post secondary school, have higher unemployment rates, and are much more likely to work for low wages, according to the findings from a study led by Dr. Ronald Mincy, Maurice V. Russell Professor of Social Policy and Social Work Practice at the Columbia University School of Social Work.
Entitled A Study of Employment, Earnings, and Educational Gaps between Young Black Bermudian Males and their Same-Age Peers, the study examined the attainment gaps between young black Bermudian males and other youth and young adults in Bermuda. The study was based on micro-data files, which Mincy and his team prepared from Bermuda’s 2000 Census of Population and Housing and qualitative interviews conducted with Bermudian high schools seniors.
During a long struggle for educational equity, Black Bermudians, especially males, were told that they needed only the types of education that would enable them to work with their hands. With such education Black Bermudian males earned family sustaining wages in low-paying jobs hospitality and retail trade, and transportation-industry jobs, until the worldwide recession of the 1980s. But the expansion of finance, insurance and businesses services industries in Bermuda during the last two decades has led to thousands of high paying jobs requiring some post-secondary education to Bermuda, most of which are filled by immigrants. Black women in Bermuda have prepared themselves for lower and middle level management positions in these industries, but far fewer Black Bermudian men have done so.
“These forces have led to the educational and earnings disparities by race and gender that we report in the study,” says Dr. Mincy. “To reduce these disparities, adults, especially fathers, must tell young Black Bermudian males: Even surgeons work with their hands! And, along with continued efforts to reduce discrimination, business owners, government, schools, and youth serving organizations in Bermuda must expose young Black males to a wider array of career options than they perceive now.”
Following the study’s completion, Bermuda has increased guidance counseling in the public secondary schools so students at risk of academic failure can be identified early and all students can receive support in identifying their career interests and applying for higher education opportunities. This was one recommendation of the study, which also has provoked an evidence-based debate about other policy and programmatic changes.
Premier of Bermuda Dr. Ewart Brown also stated, “I believe this study will give us a comprehensive, evidence-based picture of the challenges continuing to confront our young Black men… It will also better position the Government and others to design and or modify policies and programs across Government Ministries. We now have a credible guide to assist us in establishing new policy initiatives, specifically tailored to address the core issues identified.”
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