White applicants to the Civil Service Fast Stream are three times more likely to be successful than those from black backgrounds, new figures show.
Record numbers of graduates applied to join the fast stream in the last three years, with more than 160,800 external applicants for just 3,290 places, a success rate of just under 1 in 50.
However, the chances of success differed greatly depending on the ethnic background of the applicant.
Labour’s shadow women and equalities secretary Anneliese Dodds said it is a “disgrace” that people from black backgrounds are three times less likely than their white counterparts to win a place on the government’s elite graduate scheme.
“The fact that you have a 1 in 44 shot at success if you’re white and a 1 in 143 chance if you’re black shows just how far ministers are falling short of their promise to make the civil service the UK’s most inclusive employer," she said.
The Government Skills and Curriculum Unit published figures from the last three years of recruitment to the graduate scheme – which is designed to fast-track successful applicants into senior positions in government – earlier this month.
There were 122,000 applicants from white backgrounds between 2019 and 2021, with around 2,700 winning a place – a success rate of 1 in 44.
Candidates from black backgrounds had a success rate of one in 143 when applying to join the fast stream between 2019 and 2021, with 14,042 applying and just 98 winning a place.
This means means young people from black backgrounds were more than three times less likely than white applicants to get onto the programme in 2021, with a success rate of just 0.7%.
The government has consistently come under fire for the Fast Stream’s low numbers of black recruits.
In 2018, white applicants were 15 times more likely to be successful than black applicants in getting onto the Civil Service Fast Stream.
The new figures also show that privately-educated applicants to the Fast Stream were twice as likely to land a place on the graduate programme than people who attended a comprehensive school.
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “Our latest data shows that the fast stream is making progress in recruiting the best people from every part of British society.
“We know that there is more to do, which is why we have outreach work in the most diverse schools, colleges and universities right across the UK."