Birmingham business leaders are warning that recruiting from minority communities is critical to the city's future economic prosperity.
David Waller, Midlands chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers, is leading the board of business leaders that is calling on more employers in the city to get involved with Fair Cities, a pilot initiative designed to help businesses engage with and hire more black and minority ethnic employees.
Birmingham has been chosen as a pilot for the Fair Cities initiative which has already helped over 100 unemployed people from the city's disadvantaged communities to gain careers in the financial, hospitality, public and health care sectors across the city.
Fair Cities is working with 12 of the major employers, including Royal Bank of Scotland, Birmingham City Council, BT Openreach, West Midlands Police, Heartlands hospital and Mitchells & Butlers. Mr Waller, Fair Cities' chairman, said: "Birmingham will need to fill 300,000 jobs over the next decade and at the same time it is predicted that it will become the first majority ethnic city, so recruiting from the local community is critical to the success of Birmingham's economy over this time.
"Businesses in the city need to face up to the issue of diversity and change their recruitment practices, not only to stay competitive, but to build a sustainable workforce for the future.
"Fair Cities identifies skills gaps with employers then goes out into the local community to find and train people specifically for the vacancies. The fact we have already filled more than 100 jobs, with 800 more in the pipeline, shows the approach works – but we are urging more employers to step forward and take advantage of the free support available."
Meanwhile, Coventry University is teaming up with Royal Bank of Scotland to help businesses make the most of international trading opportunities.
The bank is working with the university to provide a specialised language and advice service to Midlands companies. The aim is to take advantage of the 2,600 international students from more than 90 different countries who are on the campus.
The university has a recruitment agency, thefutureworks, which specialises in enhancing undergraduates and graduate employability by helping them find paid jobs and 12-week work experience placements.
Under this new scheme, exporters will be able to tap into the cultural knowledge of overseas students on the likes of language barriers, protocols and customs that they should be aware of when doing business in foreign countries. RBS will offer this as an additional service to customers in addition to its international trade financial services.
Ian Fletcher, international trade manager at RBS, said: "The ability to gain an insight into some of the cultural barriers and sensitivities to undertaking business in a particular country is an important service provided to importers and exporters over and above the financial modelling and advice we deliver."