Digging deep on privilege and access

31st July 2009 at 01:00

As a participant at one of the meetings of the Fair Access to the Professions panel, I welcome the fact that publication of the report has brought social mobility to the forefront of discussion once again.

Having been involved in this field for more than 10 years I am used to hearing pronouncements about the need for, and promise of, change. The comment from Number 10 that the report would be given "a fair wind" in Whitehall doesn't, however, have a ring of confidence that anything substantial will change soon.

Many young people undoubtedly have considerable potential but have no awareness of the professions, how to market themselves, the importance of networking, internships, the qualifications required (or not) - the list goes on, mirroring many of the points made by Milburn. Often the problems are those of perception, not just from the pupils' perspective but also from teachers, parents and family members. The common misconception - "it's not for the likes of me" - are often reinforced by those around them. If these views can be put right at an early stage and replaced by positives, many more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds would see the professions as an attainable and empowering career path.

At the Brokerage we have spent the past 10 years raising the aspirations and awareness of over 10,000 young people from some of the most disadvantaged inner-London boroughs, to the range of careers available within the City and Docklands.

The points made by Milburn are apparent to all in this field, but nothing much will happen unless more money and resources are made available. We have substantial support from City firms, but finding funding to expand our work is difficult, even with a proven track record. This is something I am sure will find resonance with most people doing this sort of work.

Caroline Reeson, Managing director, the Brokerage Citylink, London.

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