Improving the quality of work experience and careers advice in schools and colleges is critical to enabling social mobility, a new report states.
The 5% Club is a membership organisation of employers committed to increasing the number of “earn and learn” skills training opportunities, including apprenticeships.
In its new Playing to our strengths: Unlocking social mobility for economic good report, the organisation sets out a number of measures it believes would increase social mobility in the UK through changes to the skills system.
Here is a summary of their recommendations:
1. Links between schools, colleges and employers need strengthening
Employers should develop strong links with schools and colleges in deprived areas and increase the access young people in those areas have to workplaces, mentors and work experience.
The report author's said research shows that work placements, are "particularly valuable for young people from low socioeconomic backgrounds, giving them access to the work environment and improving employability."
2. Scrap degree requirements for non-graduate roles
Employers should examine their recruitment processes to ensure they understand where talented applicants from different backgrounds fall through the cracks. For example, the "unnecessary process of requesting degrees for non-graduate roles."
Support should extend beyond those at entry-level, the report says. Employers should also examine whether there are "internal barriers within the company that hamper those from disadvantaged backgrounds who are appointed from progressing up the career ladder," as well as developing programmes that support personal development.
3. Careers advice should boost apprenticeship awareness
Young people, parents and educators need an improved awareness and understanding of what apprenticeships are, what they offer and the levels available to address outdated perceptions that they are “second-best.”
Effective careers advice should be offered throughout schools to ensure that all young people have an understanding of the range of jobs and industries they could work in. Learning about the workplace during the primary school years should also be increased, according to the report.
4. A more all-encompassing skills levy
The apprenticeship levy should be changed into a "broader skills levy, with increased flexibility to allow it to be spent on other types of high-quality technical skills training."
5. Allow reforms to bed in
Funding for the FE sector needs to be stabilised, the report author's said. Relationships with employers must be strengthened, with both FE providers and employers taking responsibility for making this happen. They added: "There must be a period of consolidation, to allow for the reforms to become established and for the sector to focus on making them a success."