Monday, 17 June 2013

We need to talk about integration

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I used to work with a colleague who whenever he was given a new task asked himself two questions
– Is it urgent?
– Is it important?

He said that people tended to prioritise the things that were urgent but not that important (like emptying your inbox) over things that were really important (like spending time with your customers to see if they were happy with your work.)

Compared to the economy and unemployment, integration policy never feels urgent. But it is important.

Important to the health of the nation, important to the economy and important to employment.

Unsure? Let me give you four examples of why it matters so much.

• Social mobility: Relationships and networks are key to social mobility.  However, half of our poorest children are educated together in just 20% of our schools.
• Unemployment: 80% of jobs are never advertised but passed through word of mouth.  However half of unemployed Brits spend most of their time with others who are out of work.
• Social Care: Loneliness makes the elderly more likely to suffer mental and physical illness.  However, 5 million senior citizens are so disconnected from society that they describe the television as their main companion.
• Security: Having a friend of different faiths makes you less susceptible to extremism.  However only 12% of non-Muslims have a Muslim friend.

Integration policy matters. And yet it is often misunderstood by political parties. As parties start thinking about their 2015 election, we’re going to use the blog this week to lay out four ways not to put together your integration policy.

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