Archive for the ‘Social Mobility Report 2012’ Category

Social Mobility Report 2012 of Alan Milburn

jeudi, mai 31st, 2012

The Politics Live blog of Andrew Sparrow in the on-line Guardian of 30th May, 2012 , provides a useful summary of the key points of the Social Mobility Report by Alan Milburn as reproduced below:

Here are the key points.

? Milburn says the professions generally remain a « closed shop » to applicants from poor background and that attempts to open them up over recent years have made little progress.

The question posed by this report is whether the growth in professional employment is producing a social mobility dividend for our country. The short answer is not yet.

Milburn says across the professions as a whole, « the glass ceiling has been scratched, but not broken ».

The senior ranks of the professions are a closed shop. If social mobility is to become anything other than a pipedream they will have to open up. Unfortunately, the evidence collected for this report suggests that there is only, at best, limited progress being made in prising open the professions. That is not about to change any time soon. Data collected for this report indicates that the next generation of our country’s lawyers, doctors and journalists are likely to be a mirror image of previous generations.

? He says medicine has made « far too little progress » and shown « far too little interest » in improving access to people from poor backgrounds.

Medicine lags behind other professions both in the focus and in the priority it accords to these issues. It has a long way to go when it comes to making access fairer, diversifying its workforce and raising social mobility. There is no sense of the sort of galvanised effort that the Neuberger Report induced in law. That is regrettable, not least because when it comes to both gender and race, medicine has made impressive progress over recent years … The profession itself recognises that the skills which modern doctors require include far greater understanding of the social and economic backgrounds of the people they serve. That is a welcome recognition. It now needs to be matched by action. Overall, medicine has made far too little progress and shown far too little interest in the issue of fair access. It needs a step change in approach.

He says one particular problem is that students need work experience to get into medical school, but that access to this is « often unstructured and informal.

We could uncover little systematic effort on the part of the medical profession to address this palpable unfairness ».

? He says journalism has gone backwards more than any other profession in becoming less open to people from poor backgrounds.

This report finds that journalism has shifted to a greater degree of social exclusivity than any other profession. Without a single representative or regulatory body, responsibility for bringing about change to the media sector sits with organisations’ boards, senior staff, editors, and human resources teams. Our sense is that current efforts are fragmented and lacking in any real vigour. Journalism, with some honourable exceptions, does not seem to take the issue of fair access seriously. Where it has focused on the issue, it has prioritised race and gender but not socio­-economic diversity. That needs to change.

He also says the media industry is the « worst offender » when it comes to abusing internships.

What seems to distinguish journalism from other professions is that interns are substitutes for what in other sectors would be regarded as functions carried out by mainstream paid employees. The practice in much of the media industry is more akin to treating interns as free labour. The problem with that is self-evident. It is possible only for those who can afford to work for free. It means that others ? perhaps with equal or better claims on a career in journalism ? are excluded from consideration.

? He says all the major political parties « continue to select parliamentary candidates who are disproportionately drawn from better-off backgrounds ».

Of the Coalition Cabinet in May 2010, 59% were educated privately. Some 32% of the final Cabinet under the previous Labour Government were also educated privately. Over recent years, the political parties have made some progress on selecting women and candidates from minority ethnic backgrounds. A similar effort is now needed on their part when it comes to diversifying the socio-economic backgrounds of those they select to be their candidates for MPs.

? He says the civil service has « made progress » in relation to improving access.

In 2009, 45% of senior civil servants were privately educated. Today, of the 200 top civil servants, 27% were privately educated.

? He says the legal profession is starting to make « real efforts » to improve access, but that progress is still « too slow ».

In some cases the legal sector is at the forefront of driving activity aimed at changing access to professional jobs, whether this is through co-ordinated outreach programmes or by introducing socio-economic data collection. We commend these efforts and would like to see other professions following suit. There is, however, a lot more that needs to be done. The further up the profession you go, the more socially exclusive it becomes. Even more worryingly, entry to the law ? and therefore the lawyers of the future ? is still too socially exclusive. Overall, law is on the right track. But its progress is too slow. It needs to significantly accelerate.

? He says the government has shown « good intentionality » on the issue of achieving fair access to the professions.

Overall the Government has shown good intentionality when it comes to trying to improve fair access to a professional career, even though it is making more progress in some areas than in others. It needs to be more holistic in its approach and ensure that its efforts are better co-ordinated.

Milburn says the social mobility business compact published by Nick Clegg last year « is to be commended » and he says ministers should publish an annual update on how it is being implemented.

? He says that internships should « no longer be treated as part of the informal economy » because of their importance to young people’s career prospects.

The government should find a way of kitemarking quality internships, he says. And there should be transparent and fair selection procedures.

? He says he will soon be publishing two more reports, one on access to universities and one about what the government is doing to tackle child poverty and improve social mobility.