Young people feel social mobility is getting worse but think education will improve

Survey finds 40 per cent believe education will improve for future generations

Helen Ward

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New research on social mobility shows people are optimistic that education will improve for future generations, but think job security and housing will get worse.

Around 64 per cent of people thought their education was better than their parents, according to the Social Mobility Commission's findings, based on a poll of almost 5,000 people by YouGov.

And around 40 per cent felt that future generations would get a better education, with only 15 per cent thinking it will be worse.

This was in contrast with other areas asked about – only 16 per cent thought job security would improve, with 39 per cent thinking it would get worse. And when it came to housing, around 38 per cent felt future generations would be worse off, with just 21 per cent believing the situation would improve. The survey was conducted before the general election. 

social mobility barometer

* Source: Social Mobility Commission: Social Mobility Barometer June 2017

Britain's "deep social mobility problem" is getting worse for young people, said Alan Milburn, chairman of the commission.

Mr Milburn, a former cabinet minister, said young people "feel like they are on the wrong side of a profound unfairness" in society.

The research found that 51 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds believe social background determines chances of success in life.

It showed that 40 per cent of those aged 65 and over also thought a person's background and family was the main factor in where they end up in society.

'A profound unfairness'

According to the government advisory body's findings, there is a widespread belief that people from poor backgrounds have fewer educational opportunities and less chance of getting a well-paid job.

The research also found that more than three-quarters (76 per cent) thought that poorer people have less opportunity to go to a top university, and 66 per cent thought poorer people have less of a chance of a professional career.

Less than a third of those surveyed – 32 per cent – believed everyone has a fair chance in life regardless of their background.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the headteachers’ union NAHT, said the suggestion that young people believe that background determines outcomes in life was particularly worrying.

“The government must implement measures we know will narrow the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged pupils, such as investment in high-quality early years education. And we must reject policies that harm social mobility, such as selective education,” he said.

Former Labour minister Mr Milburn said: "Young people increasingly feel like they are on the wrong side of a profound unfairness in British society - and they are unhappy about it.

"Perhaps unsurprisingly, what could be dubbed the 'revenge of the young' was evident at the general election, with record numbers of young people turning out to vote.”

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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