National social mobility tour visits Bury firm

July 2018: Bury North MP James Frith visited heat treatment firm Wallwork Group last week as part of Social Mobility Pledge tour celebrating outstanding local businesses. 
The summer-long tour of schools, colleges and businesses across the UK is championing social mobility and uncovering some of the barriers, including ‘imposter syndrome’, which affects 70% of people.*
In a recent study by the Social Mobility Pledge involving 2,000 workers in Britain, almost half (49 per cent) said people without regional accents find it easier to progress in their industry, while one in four believe having a regional accent has held them back at work.
Meanwhile personal connections with bosses are deemed most important in the North West, with 79 per cent of respondents believing “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” still rings true in terms of career progress.
Wallwork Group is one of the first businesses in the UK to signal its determination to improve opportunity and careers prospects by signing the Social Mobility Pledge, which was launched in March with Justine Greening MP.
The Pledge sees companies commit to working with local schools and colleges, offer work placements and apprenticeships and adopt open recruitment polices such as name-blind or contextual recruitment. 
It aims to ensure employees are able to reach their full potential and progress in their careers based on talent, not their upbringing, accent or personal connections with bosses.
Justine and James visited Wallwork Group, which is a national company based in Bury with offices in Birmingham, Cambridge and Newcastle. It employs 300 people and provides comprehensive heat treatment and hard coating service to the manufacturing industry, including aerospace, medical and motorsport.
Bury North MP James Frith, is a Social Mobility Pledge Champion, committed to working to improve social mobility in his constituency. 
Justine Greening MP said: “Lots of people have all the skills they need for a role but instead feel like they’ve only got it through luck, that somehow, they’re in a role they’re not meant to have. And it can mean they don’t apply for a job they’re perfectly able to do, thinking, wrongly, it’s beyond them, when it’s not. Research shows lots of women feel this way but so do many people from more disadvantaged backgrounds, so it acts as a brake on social mobility in Britain. 
“I applaud Wallwork Group for the work they are doing, which will make a big difference to social mobility in Britain. It’s great to have them on board.” 
James Frith MP added: "In my first year as MP many people have told me they wish politicians could work together more and find agreement on issues that matter. So I was happy to welcome Justine to Bury to visit Wallwork, one of half a dozen local Bury firms who have so far signed the pledge and committed to taking action to improve social mobility. There are lots of great examples of Bury businesses working in partnership with our family of schools and colleges and providing work placements and apprenticeships to local people, but there is always more we can do and I hope others will follow the lead of firms like Wallwork in addressing this crucial issue."
Peter Carpenter, CEO of the Wallwork Group, which has its head office in Bury said:" We were very pleased to welcome Justine Greening and James Frith to visit our Bury site. It's great to see cross party collaboration on an issue as important as this. The Wallwork Group supports the Social Mobility Pledge and now have an excellent workforce as a result of our inclusive recruitment policy over the last few years." 

A number of the UK’s major employers, including John Lewis, Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Vodafone, KPMG and ITV, have already signed up to the Social Mobility Pledge.

Other accredited Social Mobility Employers include BT, Morrisons, Adidas, True Potential, PWC, Deloitte and Severn Trent Water.

Matthew McPherson