Report findings highlight a “social scandal”.
The two following articles highlight why the Workers of England Union oppose Tuition fees for university students in England. Education should be the key word in ‘social mobility’, sadly in these times it isn’t the case. The Workers of England campaign team gives you this assurance that we will continue to fight on your behalf against tuition fees as we believe they disadvantage less advantaged families.
Families ‘Create Glass Floor’ To Protect Less Academically Gifted Children, Study Says
Posted: 26/07/2015 10:14 BST Updated: 26/07/2015 10:59 BST
Wealthy parents create a “glass floor” for their less-gifted children ensuring they “hoard the best opportunities” and grow up to be rich, a study has suggested.
Children from wealthier families but with less academic ability are 35% more likely to become high earners than their more gifted counterparts from poor families, according to findings from the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission.
The study, entitled “Downward mobility, opportunity hoarding and the ‘glass’ floor”, looked at the lives of 17,000 people born in Britain in the same week in 1970.
The potential for success can even date as far back as the social background of the child’s grandfather, the report suggested.
Factors influencing a child’s success later in life included the level of their parents’ education, the type of secondary school they attend and the highest qualification they achieved, the report said.
Wealthier parents often help their children by using their social networks and finding them useful unpaid internships. They may also provide better careers guidance and focus on so-called soft skills including self-confidence and leadership.
On examining the participants’ achievements by the age of 42, the report found “high attaining children from less advantaged family backgrounds are less able to, or at least less successful, at converting this early high potential into later labour market success”.
The report indicated those highest up the social ladder may have to make way for others as attempts are made to increase social mobility.
It said: “If policy makers are determined to increase social mobility in a climate where ‘room at the top’ is not expanding then the factors that limit downward mobility will need to be addressed.”
The report suggested a number of ways to tackle the issue, including ending unpaid internships, improving the quality of schools in disadvantaged areas, and educating parents to improve their skills and perspectives.
Study author Dr Abigail McKnight from the London School of Economics said: “The fact that middle class families are successful in hoarding the best opportunities in the education system and in the labour market is a real barrier to the upward social mobility of less advantaged children.”
“Children from less advantaged families who show high potential at age five are struggling to convert this potential into later labour market success.”
“Schools could do much more to help children from less advantaged families build on high early potential.”
Commission chairman Alan Milburn said the findings highlighted a “social scandal”.
“It has long been recognised that there is a glass ceiling in British society that prevents children with potential progressing to the top. This research reveals there is a glass floor that inhibits social mobility as much as the glass ceiling.
“It’s a social scandal that all too often demography is still destiny in Britain. The Government should make its core mission the levelling of the playing field so that every child in the country has an equal opportunity to go as far as their abilities can take them.”
Top Firms ‘Poshness Test’ imposes class ceiling
Sarah Neville, Public Policy Editor
The UK’s most elite financial services and legal firms operate a “poshness test” that systematically locks talented working-class people out of high-flying jobs, an official report has found.
Recruiters use criteria skewed towards those from privileged backgrounds such as whether candidates have travelled extensively or display “polish” and confidence, the government-appointed Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission reports on Monday.
Data collected for the inquiry showed that last year as many as 70 per cent of job offers were made to graduates who had been educated at a selective state or fee-paying school, although they made up only 4 per cent and 7 per cent of the population as a whole.
However, the report suggests that few firms see a business case for changing their recruitment procedures to crack this “class ceiling”, with one describing a homogeneous workforce as more “efficient”.
The findings were based on in-depth interviews with people involved in selecting or managing new entrants at 10 leading law and accountancy firms based in London, plus three banks and an accountancy firm in Scotland.
Explaining why he would choose to hire someone from a similar background to his own, one interviewee said: “I can write . . . an obscure comment in the margin and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. You get my jokes. There’s not a risk that I’m going to offend you by saying something, because we get each other and that’s hugely efficient.”
One employer acknowledged his law firm might be missing out on some talented people but told the inquiry “the problem boils down almost to a budgetary one . . . how much mud do I have to sift through in that population to find that diamond?”
This emphasis on quality and experience associated with an affluent upbringing may explain why typically just under 40 per cent of trainees appointed by leading law firms were educated at fee-paying schools, compared with just 7 per cent in the wider population, the commission argues.
One London law firm recruiter said: “I’m very interested in people who’ve gone travelling,” while another talked of the importance of “holidays that you’ve been on, places you’ve visited”. An accountancy firm executive said: “Accents make a difference, things people talk about . . . we all [make judgments], don’t we?”
Alan Milburn, the former Labour cabinet minister who chairs the bipartisan commission, said the research showed that young people with working-class backgrounds were being “systematically locked out of top jobs. Elite firms seem to require applicants to pass a ‘poshness test’ to gain entry.”
“It is time for the rest to follow the lead of the best and adopt policies that make access to a top job genuinely meritocratic,” he added.
Some interviewees suggested it would be wrong to discriminate in favour of young people from underprivileged backgrounds.
However, the commission’s report argues that, in effect, this discrimination is already operating in the other direction, because efforts to recruit graduates are heavily concentrated on a small number of Russell Group universities predominantly attended by the children of middle-class families.
Louise Ashley, of Royal Holloway University of London, who led the research, said firms must seek out applicants from a far wider range of educational and socio-economic backgrounds and ensure they receive the same level of support as their richer peers to help them navigate the selection process effectively.
On Sunday, the government announced plans to protect apprenticeships by giving them equal legal treatment as degrees.
The plan will be part of the enterprise bill and will give the government power to take action when the term apprenticeship is abused to promote low-quality courses.
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