Launching the Social Mobility Pledge

Talent is evenly spread across the UK, but opportunity isn’t. That is a, frankly, depressing fact and for too long governments of all colours have been unable to rectify it.

In 2018, where you end up is still too closely connected to where you started. But today we made an important step towards a more level playing field. 

In December, as Secretary of State for Education, our steering group chairman Justine Greening MP said everyone from government and employers to education professionals and civil society must work together so that social mobility runs through everything we all do.

Today, that ambition was debated in Parliament as Justine led a Westminster Hall debate with fellow MPs. Top of the agenda was how to boost skills and confidence so the leap from education into work is seamless and career aspirations are broader. 

But talking only ever gets you so far, and social mobility is in desperate need of concerted action. 

In its 2017 ‘State of Social Mobility in Britain’ report, the Sutton Trust found that he UK ranks near the bottom for income mobility across OECD nations.

Social mobility is notoriously hard to pin down to an agreed definition or single measurement, but at its heart is the class ceiling that we are determined to smash through.

Today we unveiled the Social Mobility Pledge, building a new type of partnership with businesses to improve advice, information and experiences for young people. Dozens of businesses across the UK have already signed up, representing tens of thousands of people.

As Social Mobility Employers, they have committed to: 

1.     Partnering with schools or colleges to provide coaching through quality careers advice, enrichment experience and/or mentoring to people from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances;

2.     Providing structured work experience and/or apprenticeship opportunities to people from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances; and

3.     Adopting open employee recruitment practices which promotes a level playing field for people from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances.

Our North East based co-founder, David Harrison, of True Potential LLP and the Harrison Centre for Social Mobility underlined the vital role businesses play in communities. He said “Social mobility is not just about what the government can do. It exists in businesses throughout the country. Growing those opportunities and connecting them with local communities is key. We need to step up our approach to social mobility in this country, by replacing limited prospects with training towards better paying and more skilled jobs as well as encouraging entrepreneurialism.”

When businesses sign up to the Pledge, they are doing their bit to make a lasting change and helping to level up Britain.

David Osborn, ITV Group Human Resources Director, said: "We are very pleased to be signing the PAR pledge today as it highlights our ongoing commitment to ensuring ITV is a truly inclusive and representative employer. This pledge builds upon our support of the Social Mobility Business Partnership, which we help to co-fund and support though over 3,500 hours of volunteering, and further reinforces our commitment to include socio-economic starting point at the heart of our diversity and inclusion strategy.”

Liv Garfield, Severn Trent CEO, said: “We’re delighted to sign the Social Mobility Pledge today as it’s a real focus for Severn Trent as an organisation and for me personally. I’m proud we’ve built a company where anyone, from any background can join us and flourish, whether they’re looking to join us as an apprentice, a graduate or in any role across the business.”

Matthew McPherson