Among developed nations, the UK is one of the most socially unequal. Too often one’s success in life in the UK is down to the advantages of birth rather than hard work and talent.
This starts from a very early age and is pervasive throughout UK society:
- 65% of senior judges and 59% of civil service permanent secretaries were privately educated, while only 7% of the UK’s population is privately educated.
- Despite only 1% of the UK’s population having attended Oxford or Cambridge University, a third of regular newspaper columnists attended private school and either Oxford or Cambridge, and 27% of FTSE 350 chairs attended these two selective universities.
Reaching a leading position in the UK is therefore highly constrained to two universities and to access to private education. But even outside of elite jobs, those from a high-income background are still 80% more likely to make it into professional jobs than those from working-class backgrounds. And those with the least skills are the least likely to get in-work training, meaning the social mobility gap continues to grow throughout adult life.
We funded the Social Mobility Foundation (SMF) with £1.4 million over four years to support their programmes for students and two new projects:
- The Department for Opportunities: a new brand within the SMF working to mobilise a coalition of the willing -- including employers, communities, charities, councils, schools, colleges and universities -- to take action within their spheres of influence to improve social mobility.
- Careers in the social and environmental sector: a new initiative that will enable the SMF to support talented young people from less privileged backgrounds into mission-driven organisations.
Visit SMF's website to learn more about their work: socialmobility.org.uk