Is It Discriminatory to Determine Employability Based on Nationality?

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Over the past few years, the rate at which new immigrants enter the UK has been continuously increasing. The advantages and disadvantages of immigration to the UK have been discussed. Currently, the UK takes pride in being one of the nations that actively combats incidences of racism, ethnicity, and other issues that could unjustly make it more difficult for job searchers to find employment there (Faez, 2011). Researchers have noted the existence of prejudice in the labor market based on race and nationality despite the severe rules against discrimination. For instance, it had been pointed out that job applicants with British names are called for job interviews at a higher rate compared to their counterparts with the same educational qualification but with African or Asian names. In addition, there has been a concern on the rate at which racial discrimination is spreading in the UK labour market (Imdorf, 2007). Past studies on this area revealed that Africans, Asians, and other job seekers from minority groups were discriminated either during hiring or in the workplaces if they get the chance to be employed (Bertrand & Mullainathan, 2004).

Given that the UK have many immigrants who have pursued their education in the various universities across the UK and have the right to work there, studying the effects of nationality on employability in the UK labour market will be important in fighting against any possible discrimination in the labour market (Fibbi, Lerch & Wanner, 2006). Therefore, this study will find out the effects of nationality on employability in the UK by investigating the existing literature on ethnic minority graduates and the time they take to land into a job in any sector. The research questions for this study will be answered by exploring the existing literature. In addition, the research design will be outlined in the methodology section.

Aims of the Study

The main aim of the study is to find out the how nationality influences employability. In addition, the study seeks to find out how basing employability on nationality can promote discrimination in the UK labour market.

Objectives of the Study

To find out the effects of nationality on employability.

To investigate how basing employment on nationality can promote discrimination in the labour market.

Research Questions

How does nationality influence employability in the UK labour market?

Is basing employment on nationality a form of discrimination?

Literature Review

Over the past years, employability has gained much intensity in both political and academic fields. As a result, many studies have focused on the issue of employability, especially on its connection to ethnicity and discrimination. In some instances, attention has been drawn to the relationship between employability, educational achievements, and work experiences. Furthermore, relationship between employability and ethnicity has been studied in the past. However, the study on ethnicity and employability has focused on the disadvantages of immigrants in the UK labour (Todd & Pojanapunya, 2009). The study of employability has been an interesting matter to the policy makers due to the vested interest in formulating solutions to the rising cases of discrimination in the UK labour market despite the efforts to regulate the emergence of any forms of discrimination in recruitment by employers in different sectors of the economy. The given literature review seeks to explore the existing theoretical and empirical evidence regarding the relationship between employability based on nationality and discrimination in the UK labour market (Moussu & Llurda, 2008). To achieve this, it will try to examine how employability relates to other phenomenon like educational qualification, experience, ethnicity, and other factors that may be considered by recruiters during hiring.

Nationality and Employability

Previous studies by Cox & King (2006) on the relation between nationality and employability indicated that respondents with greater chances of being employed few months after their graduation were whites. On the other hand, their counterparts from other nationalities, immigrants, or minority ethnic groups had lower chances of being employed after their undergraduate degrees. In addition, minority groups and graduates from other nationalities recorded low outcomes in the attainment of labour market measures (Smith, McKnight & Naylor, 2000).

Educational Achievement and Employability

The constant increase in the number of graduates from the UK universities every year has led to the increased competition in the job market (Dacre & Sewell, 2007). Clark & Paran (2007), on the other hand, argues that fresh graduates are now facing thorough evaluation before they are absorbed in the UK labour market. Clark & Paran (2007), attributes this to employers are using employment related skills to evaluate the abilities of the graduates to deliver in their new jobs. As a result, many graduates have missed out of several opportunities due to lack of relevant employability skills other than educational achievements (Tomlinson, 2008).

Discrimination in Employment

Adam Smith outlines the role of the government in providing employment opportunities for its citizens (Vesterberg, 2016). In addition, Smith argues that the state must also provide security to the minority groups. According Cox & King (2006), business enterprises’ main aim is to maximize their revenues and lower production costs. As a result, they tend to recruit workers with the desired personal attributes, educational, and professional qualifications (Hepple, Coussey & Choudhury, 2000). Discrimination in employment can be defined as the case where recruiting agency or employer is unequally treating similarly qualified applicants or potential employees during recruitment. Over the past years, employability based on nationality have been considered as a form of discrimination since immigrants and other minority groups had lesser chances of being employed compared to natives (Ahmed, Abdullah & Heng, 2013). A study conducted by Morley (2001) established that all forms of discrimination were a result of prejudice, stereotyped perception of risks, and cost control. Although, there have been arguments on the issue of employability based on nationality, much is still being said about the advantages and disadvantages of immigrants in the UK labour market (Carpenter, Freda & Speeden, 2007). The study done by Carpenter, Freda & Speeden (2007) points out that there is general feeling that using nationality, race, and ethnicity to gauge employability of individuals is a way in which the recruits discriminate non-native applicants.


The research methodology section focuses on the methods that will include utilizing data collection, answering the research questions, and validating the formulated research hypotheses. To ensure the intended purpose of the study is strictly adhered to, it will be divided into two main research questions: How does nationality influence employability in the UK labour market? Is basing employment on nationality a form of discrimination?

Research Design

It refers to the overall planning of the procedures that will be adopted in the data collection and analysis during evaluation of a given theoretical perspective (Mertens, 2014). This particular study will adopt a mixed design since it will need to evaluate both qualitative and quantitative research approaches. Mixed approach will be very vital for this particular study, because both qualitative and quantitative data collected from the primary sources using survey tools will require various data analysis so to utilize both descriptive and inferential statistics. In other words, it will adopt the positivist approach, since it will make use of quantitative research to evaluate the existing data of the working population and their nationalities (Noble & Smith, 2015). Mixed research will give room to accommodate the views of various previous researchers on this subjects, as well as participants. It will be very appropriate in collecting data with an aim of investigating the nature of employability based on nationality in the UK labour market (Anderson, Adey & Bevan, 2010). Data for the study will be gathered from primary sources using surveys. In addition, there is need to establish the existing correlation and dependence between nationality, employability, and discrimination in the labour market. In addition, it will help in gauging whether employability based on nationality is a form of discrimination or not. Previous studies related to this topic applied a mixed research approach where both quantitative and qualitative data were used to investigate the relationship between the study variables.

Data Types and Data Sources

The study will utilize both primary data. The primary data will be obtained using surveys. Online surveys will be conducted to collect information from university graduates and human resources professionals. In addition, top employers like company managers Secondary data will be obtained from the office of national statistics. Since the study is quantitative in nature, quantitative data will be the mostly utilized in the process (Ritchie, Lewis & Elam, 2013). However, some aspects will involve seeking the opinions and suggestions that will therefore necessitate the use of qualitative data. For example, to find the link between employability based on nationality and discrimination, there is need to seek respondents opinions on the same. Since the study utilizes secondary data, such qualitative data will be obtained from online reviews, articles, journals, and research papers on the topic.

Sampling Techniques and Sample Size

The study will adopt stratified sampling technique in selecting the sample to be used (Ritchie, Lewis & Elam, 2013). Stratified sampling strategy is more appropriate since the study will need information on employment from different categories of employees with different nationalities (Bordens & Abbott, 2002). Results from the stratified samples will be representative of the entire working population. To obtain the stratified samples used in the survey, target population will be grouped into recent graduates, human resource professionals, and top company managers. A sample of 450 participants (150 participants from each strata) will be collected involved in the survey.


Validity refers to the extent to which a research instrument tends to measure what it is supposed to measure. Validity of an instrument is also defined as the accuracy of the instrument used in collection of data. The study will focus on external validity. External validity is the extent to which results from the sample can be used to generalize the whole population (Harriss & Atkinson, 2015). To ensure external validity is achieved, the opinions of research experts in human resources will be used to evaluate the validity of the instruments.


Reliability is the degree to which the research instruments provide consistent results outcome over time (Csikszentmihalyi & Larson, 2014). Reliability dictates on whether to depend on an instrument to collect required information for the study. Data analysis software such as SPSS will be used to test for reliability test. Spearman-Brown Correction Formula will be adopted in the test of reliability.

Ethical Consideration

Ethical consideration will guide conduct of researchers during the research process. The study will outline policies and guidelines to be followed during the whole process (Creswell, 2013). Under the circumstances where the researchers cannot abide by the laid-down policy and codes of conduct, logical decisions will be made based on the study aims, objectives, and research questions (Punch, 2013). Participants consent will be seeked before conducting the survey. This study will ensure the participants remains anonymous and the information collected remains confidential.

Proposed Work Flow

Below is the proposed work plan of this research and it constitutes the tasks to expected to be performed, when task should be undertaken and the work force involved.




Institution Board Review (IBR) of the proposal and application of ethical consent.

To be accomplished within the first three months of the actual commencement of the research.


Appointment of field supervisor. Consultation with statistician and design the study protocol, questionnaire and planned milestones

March to April


Field survey: Validation of the study protocol and questionnaire

April to May

Researcher and Research Assistants

Collection of data from primary sources using onlinesurveys

May to June

Research Assistant and Researcher

Statistical data analysis

June to July


If there’s a need to improve along the process of doing the research, provide/make recommendations for improvement

July to August

Researcher and Research Assistant

Dissertation writing and final recommendations

August to October



Ahmed, Z. T., Abdullah, A. N., & Heng, C. S. (2013). The role of accent and ethnicity in the professional and academic context. International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature, 2(5), 249-258.

Anderson, J., Adey, P., & Bevan, P. (2010). Positioning place: polylogic approaches to research methodology. Qualitative Research, 10(5), 589-604.

Bertrand, M., & Mullainathan, S. (2004). Are Emily and Greg more employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A field experiment on labour market discrimination. The American Economic Review, 94(4), 991-1013.

Bordens, K. S., & Abbott, B. B. (2002). Research design and methods: A process approach. McGraw-Hill.

Carpenter, M., Freda, B., & Speeden, S. (2007). Beyond the workfare state: labour markets, equalities and human rights. Policy Press.

Clark, E., & Paran, A. (2007). The employability of non-native-speaker teachers of EFL: A UK survey. System, 35(4), 407-430.

Cox, S., & King, D. (2006). Skill sets: an approach to embed employability in course design. Education+ Training, 48(4), 262-274.

Creswell, J. W. (2013). Research design: A qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches. Sage publications.

Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Larson, R. (2014). Validity and reliability of the experience-sampling method. In Flow and the foundations of positive psychology (pp. 35-54). Springer Netherlands

Dacre Pool, L., & Sewell, P. (2007). The key to employability: developing a practical model of graduate employability. Education+ Training, 49(4), 277-289.

Faez, F. (2011). Reconceptualising the native/non-native speaker dichotomy. Journal of Language, Identity & Education, 10(4), 231-249.

Fibbi, R., Lerch, M., & Wanner, P. (2006). Unemployment and discrimination against youth of immigrant origin in Switzerland: when the name makes the difference. Journal of International Migration and Integration/Revue de l'integration et de la migration internationale, 7(3), 351-366.

Harriss, D. J., & Atkinson, G. (2015). Ethical standards in sport and exercise science research: 2016 update. International journal of sports medicine, 36(14), 1121-1124.

Hepple, B. A., Coussey, M., & Choudhury, T. (2000). Equality, a new framework: report of the independent review of the enforcement of UK anti-discrimination legislation. Hart Publishing.

Imdorf, C. (2007). The Hiring of Trainees: Institutional Discrimination Based on Nationality in Swiss Enterprises. Document de travail LEST:

Mertens, D. M. (2014). Research and evaluation in education and psychology: Integrating diversity with quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. Sage publications.

Morley, L. (2001). Producing new workers: Quality, equality and employability in higher education. Quality in higher education, 7(2), 131-138.

Moussu, L., & Llurda, E. (2008). Non-native English-speaking English language teachers: History and research. Language Teaching, 41(03), 315-348.

Noble, H., & Smith, J. (2015). Issues of validity and reliability in qualitative research. Evidence Based Nursing, 18(2), 34-35.

Punch, K. F. (2013). Introduction to social research: Quantitative and qualitative approaches. Sage.

Ritchie, J., Lewis, J., & Elam, R. G. (2013). Selecting samples. Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers, 111.

Ritchie, J., Lewis, J., Nicholls, C. M., & Ormston, R. (Eds.). (2013). Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers. Sage.

Smith, J., McKnight, A., & Naylor, R. (2000). Graduate employability: policy and performance in higher education in the UK. The Economic Journal, 110(464), 382-411.

Todd, R. W., & Pojanapunya, P. (2009). Implicit attitudes towards native and non-native speaker teachers. System, 37(1), 23-33.

Tomlinson, M. (2008). ‘The degree is not enough’: students’ perceptions of the role of higher education credentials for graduate work and employability. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 29(1), 49-61.

Vesterberg, V. (2016). Ethnicising Employability: Governing the Unemployed in Labour Market Projects in Sweden (Doctoral dissertation, Linköping University Electronic Press).

March 02, 2023

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