Around £90 million from dormant bank accounts will be used to tackle high rates of unemployment among young people from ethnic minorities, Theresa May has announced.
Youth joblessness blights communities and too much talent and potential is being wasted, the Prime Minister said.
It comes after the premier warned public services they must “explain or change” significant differences in the way people of different ethnicities are treated after publishing the findings of a racial disparity audit in October.
Mrs May, who will visit a Birmingham-based youth employment charity, said: “Youth unemployment blights communities and wastes talent and potential – and too many young people from deprived and ethnic minority backgrounds face barriers preventing them from entering the world of work.
“Evidence from the race disparity audit clearly shows that while the educational attainment gap between people of different backgrounds has narrowed over time, this has not been reflected in getting jobs.
“Talent, ability and hard work should be the only factors affecting a young person’s ability to get on in life – not their background or ethnicity.
“The launch of this ambitious programme, which has young people at its heart and draws on their direct experiences, will help to address the barriers holding many young lives back, and will support young people furthest from the labour market into employment, so they can achieve their full potential.”
The research shows 16 to 24 year olds from ethnic minority groups are twice as likely to be unemployed as their white peers.
It found that while state-educated white Britons had the lowest rate for going to university, they were also less likely to be unemployed than ethnic minorities and were more likely to own their own home.
The research also found 23% of 16 to 24 year olds from ethnic minority groups were unemployed compared to 12% of white young people despite having similar qualifications.
Under the new programme, designed by the Big Lottery Fund and the government, young people will work with teachers and community organisations who will look at ways their skills can be used.
Dawn Austwick, chief executive of the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Young people who are facing multiple barriers to employment are the best-placed to tell us what needs to change for them.
“They will be at the heart of the process to shape solutions and create a dormant accounts youth programme that works for them by working with employers, educators, youth and community organisations.”
A race disparity audit advisory group, chaired by Simon Woolley, director of Operation Black Vote, is being set up to improve the way departments respond to the findings of the research.
Mr Woolley said: “This intervention is driven by the Prime Minister’s leadership with support from NGOs.
“Our role is to find out where and how we can make the biggest impact on a range of issues including youth unemployment and the ethnic disparities within it.”