Belfast Telegraph

Catholic-Protestant work gap closer

The gap between Catholic and Protestant levels of participation in Northern Ireland's workforce is closing, it was revealed.

The proportions employed are mirroring more closely the actual number available for work, the Equality Commission said.

Chief Commissioner Michael Wardlow said the picture was an encouraging one.

"We have seen for a number of years a steady improvement in the extent to which the representation of the Protestant and Roman Catholic community in the monitored workforce approximates to the composition of those available for work," he said.

A report from the Commission is based on information from thousands of private firms and public authorities.

It showed the Protestant share of the workforce was 53% and the Catholic proportion was 47%. This closely reflects data from census and labour force surveys about the numbers available for work.

In 1991 the gap between Catholics actually working and those available for employment was 5% but by 2011 the difference was just over 1%.

Mr Wardlow added: "The monitored workforce data gives a consistent and coherent snapshot of the workforce, which now stretches back over two decades.

"What it cannot tell us is whether individual employers are providing fair participation, for example, or whether discrimination is occurring in specific instances."

According to the survey, women were more likely to be employed in the public than private sector. They also represented more than two thirds of those in part-time employment. The proportion of men in part-time work has been increasing.

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