Employers have been told to embrace change now as the UK workforce continues to change and diversify.

A report from Race for Opportunity, entitled Race to the Future argues the challenge of ensuring equal employment opportunities for ethnic minorities is going to get even harder in the next 15 years.

Research published by the University of Leeds earlier this year showed the make-up of the UK population will change substantially with predictions that more than one in five Britons will be an ethnic minority by 2051.

This is set against a widening ethnic minority employment gap with ethnic minorities’ proportionate share of jobs decreasing. Research undertaken by Race for Opportunity in 2009 showed that although Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals’ share of the total population had risen from 7.3% in 2000 to 10.3% at the end of 2007, its share of the employed population failed to match that increase, growing from 5.4% to only 8.5% over the same period.

The Race for Opportunity report offers worst and best case future scenarios for the UK. Illustrating the potentially difficult situations ahead if no action is taken, the report argues that as the population grows and becomes more ethnically diverse, the danger is that employers will fail to find jobs for all groups in a roughly equal manner.

Beyond creating an even wider employment gap, this could have potentially detrimental consequences, such as high levels of deprivation in key areas where BAME communities are most concentrated.

Sandra Kerr, national director of Race for Opportunity, said: “The changing population presents an immense opportunity if handled correctly by politicians, businesses and BAME workers. This report is a wake up call to businesses and all organisations in the UK to recognise that they need to radically rethink how they go about recruiting people to ensure that ethnic minority employment in the UK is representative of its population – no matter how much it continues to change.”