Social Mobility Inquiry Finds Thousands Of Talented Young People Missing Out On Top Jobs

UK's top professions still dominated by private school and Oxbridge grads.

Thousands of talented young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are missing out on top jobs, a parliamentary inquiry into social mobility has found.

A report from the All-Party Parliament Group (APPG) has called on employers to take applicants’ backgrounds into account when recruiting to tackle the issue.

“We know that social mobility at the top of UK society is shamefully low,” APPG chair Labour MP Justin Madders said.

A cross-party group of MPs and peers say more needs to be done to improve social mobility
A cross-party group of MPs and peers say more needs to be done to improve social mobility
BartekSzewczyk via Getty Images

“If the current government is serious about improving access to top jobs for those from less advantaged homes, they need to take a much more strategic approach,” he said.

“This means linking the work of schools, universities and employers to universities and employers to build a real business case and practical plan for improving social mobility.”

The inquiry follows a 2016 report from educational charity, Sutton Trust, that found that UK’s top professions - including politics, acting, journalism and music - are still dominated by private school and Oxbridge alumni.

While almost 75% of all High Court and Appeal Court judges attended private schools, nearly a third of MPs and FTSE 100 chief execs were also independently educated.

The parliamentary group, which heard from BAFTA winner Michael Sheen and Tory MP Ben Gummer, also called for unpaid internships to be banned, “so that no young person is unable to pursue their chosen career because they can’t afford to work for free”.

Sir Peter Bazelgette, chair of the Arts Council and ITV, described unpaid internships as “the curse of the arts industry”.

In addition, the APPG recommended that employers make recruitment “less London-centric”, calling on companies to increase regional outreach and to cover travel costs.

“Getting more graduates from low and middle-income backgrounds to the top of the professions is vital both for social mobility and the economic success of the country,” founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust Sir Peter Lampl said.

“Employers, supported by government, have to do more to improve diversity through their recruitment practices, including through greater use of contextual admissions.”


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