30 May 2012

million+ comment on Social Mobility Progress Report

Commenting on Fair Access to Professional Careers, a progress report undertaken by Alan Milburn, the Independent Reviewer on Social Mobility, on his 2009 report Unleashing Aspiration, the university think-tank million+ has welcomed the critique of recruitment and selection practices of many professions and employers which reinforce barriers to social mobility.

Professor Patrick McGhee, Chair of million+ and Vice-Chancellor of the University of East London said: “Today’s report is right to highlight that all too often professional employers recruit from a very small cohort of our most socially exclusive universities. We need rapid action to persuade employers and the professions that current recruitment practices restrict opportunities for well-qualified students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Social mobility is about having opportunities to move into higher status occupations and we must make sure that the predicted expansion of new professional jobs in the next decade benefits the widest pool of talent, not just an already privileged few.

“The report is also right to recommend that the Government works with universities to develop the professional experience, internship opportunities and sandwich placements available as part of university courses. Links with business and employers in both the private and the public sectors have been integral to the agenda of modern universities for many years. These collaborations improve undergraduate employability and have an important role to play in increasing social mobility.”

Notes to editors:

  1. million+ is a leading university think-tank, working to solve the complex problems in higher education www.millionplus.ac.uk. For more information please contact Victoria Mills on 0207 717 1655 or 07900 277819.
  2. Fair Access to Professional Careers – A progress report by the Independent Reviewer on Social Mobility and Child Poverty can be downloaded here.
  3. The professions will account for approximately 83% of all new jobs in Britain in the next decade and today’s report states that these jobs “hold the key to improving social mobility.”
  4. The report highlights research undertaken by the Association of Graduate Recruiters which has found that many professional employers targeted only a small number of universities as part of their recruitment rounds. Just over one-third targeted between one and ten UK universities in 2010/11. It also cites research undertaken by High Fliers Research on the 2011/12 graduate market which shows that the UK’s leading employers target an average of only 19 universities. These universities are the most socially exclusive in the UK so these recruitment practices merely reinforce the social exclusivity of the professions. Today’s report notes that there has been only “marginal progress” in the last few years to broaden the universities targeted by graduate and professional employers.