As a nation we face questions about the country’s future and about our future relationships with our European neighbours and the wider world. We often hear on the news of reports about social mobility too.
These are changeable times where some people feel like they are losing out – social mobility matters. But, what is it, why does it matter and how does it relate to career education and guidance.
What is social mobility? According to www.thoughtco.com, social mobility is the ability of individuals, families or groups to move up or down the social ladder in a society, such as moving from low-income to middle-class. Social mobility is often used to describe changes in wealth, but it can also be used to describe general social standing or education.
So, why does it matter? We have heard the Education Secretary, Justine Greening, talk about social mobility and ‘coldspots’. Early in the year, she announced the expansion of the opportunity areas programme across England which will see local partnerships formed with early years providers, schools, colleges, universities, businesses, charities and local authorities to ensure all children and young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Who is making sure social mobility is improving then? The Social Mobility Commission (SMC) is an independent statutory body that monitor progress towards improving social mobility in the UK, and promotes social mobility in England.
They are responsible for
- publishing an annual report setting out our views on the progress made towards improving social mobility in the United Kingdom
- promoting social mobility in England
- carrying out and publishing research in relation to social mobility
- providing advice to ministers on how to improve social mobility in England
During the summer, the SMC produced ‘Time for change: an assessment of government policies on social mobility 1997 to 2017’, an assessment of government policies over the last 20 years to increase social mobility in Britain.
On young people, they said,
‘A smooth transition from school to work is one of the biggest determinants of future life chances and is therefore critical for social mobility. The last two decades have seen some major changes to post-16 education. The school age rose to 18, access to higher education widened, university tuition fees were introduced and apprenticeships were recreated.’
Moving forward, they suggest,
‘To improve social mobility, the Government should commit to reducing the attainment gap and ensure that educational qualifications translate into better labour market outcomes, especially for disadvantaged young people. In higher education, the Government should build on past successes and ensure progress does not stall by increasing labour market relevance, which would boost university’s appeal and impact for poor young people.’
They recommend the Government should,
- Set a new aim to halve the attainment gap in level 3 qualifications within the next decade through new policies including T levels, apprenticeships, and extra support and accountability reforms for further education colleges.
- Refocus apprenticeship policy on young people and on higher-quality apprenticeships.
- Ensure careers advice and support is available in all schools via greater emphasis on destinations measures plus increased training and time in the curriculum.
- Ensure that higher education is available via further education colleges in social mobility coldspots.
- Encourage universities to focus on helping students succeed in the labour market by measuring graduate outcomes and offering better careers advice and work experience opportunities.
As teachers, advisers, stakeholders and influencers, we all recognise the importance of careers guidance for social mobility as highlighted in the SMC report. Our collective knowledge and experience will ensure continued commitment and delivery and allow us to strengthen the impact of future readiness for our young people.
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