Why we’re supporting a regional solution to social mobility

18 January 2017

Social mobility is about levelling the playing field. It means helping more young people to fulfil their potential whatever their background and wherever they live. A lot of the debate around the role of business in social mobility has concentrated on a single point in time. Whether that is access to a good university or entry to a graduate position.

As a result, solutions have largely focused on employers adjusting entry criteria to give more applicants a chance, such as introducing name-blind application processes and contextualising academic performance by school and background. At PwC we took the step to remove UCAS tariff points as entry criteria as a way to address social barriers.

While these are all positive moves, it does feel like we are still only scratching the surface if we really want to improve social mobility.

At a speech at our office this week, the Education Secretary Justine Greening discussed the Government’s priorities for education, including the focus on the twelve Opportunity Areas and how we can involve business in making sure more young people know about the opportunities out there. In the Secretary of State’s words, “It is impossible to aim if you don’t know what exists”.

That is a sentiment we fully support. As well as widening access to our profession, we have combined our schools recruitment and community engagement teams to use the volunteering energy and skills of our staff to engage with over 170 schools across the UK. If young people don’t know what careers are possible, how can they aspire to them in the first place?

As part of our regional presence, we will also play our part in the twelve Opportunity Areas around the country, as set out by the Secretary of State, and we will work to ensure that pupils in these areas receive the four encounters with employers that evidence suggests plays a key role in aiding their future employment prospects.

We’re also targeting a significant increase in our paid work experience programme, so that more than 1,000 young people can experience what it is like to work at PwC over the next five years.

I, for one, am really energised by the growing momentum behind the opportunity to create an inclusive economy in the UK. It feels like we’re at a tipping point where organisations that previously focused on societal objectives in isolation - inclusivity, educational attainment, social mobility and enterprise - are now bringing them together in a more coherent way and collaborating to create an inclusive economy in the UK.

As an employer who has a reach throughout all the regions in the UK, we feel a responsibility to play an active role in this. As we head into 2017, I’m excited that we’re taking bold steps to tackle the long-term tasks that are ‘hard to do’, not just the immediate issues on our doorstep.

Gaenor Bagley, Head of Corporate Purpose

View Gaenor Bagley’s profile on LinkedIn

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