Harnessing talent through social mobility

Written by Fay Gibbin on 23 October 2018

The impact confidence, resilience and motivation can have on young people in our society should not be underestimated. A failure to hold these attributes can lead to people dropping out of education, entering low-paid or unskilled jobs and, ultimately, failing to progress to lead successful careers. 

This is the reality facing many people from disadvantaged backgrounds in the UK. They are often left without the support and education needed to develop these skills, simply because of a lack of funding and family circumstances. 

As businesses, we must do more to provide encouragement and opportunities to young people across a spectrum of social and economic backgrounds so talented individuals don’t slip through the cracks.  

Raise aspirations and awareness

There are two key factors that we must change to stop exceptional talent being wasted. In a recent interview, Sir Kenneth Olisa, Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London and esteemed businessman, talked about how we must ‘raise children’s aspirations’ to boost social mobility. 

Raising awareness of the options available to young people and encouraging them to forge careers in those sectors struggling with retention and recruitment is vital.  

He highlighted the fact that young people from disadvantaged areas can’t access the same opportunities that others of a better social standing do. I echo his thoughts and believe schools, colleges, businesses and training providers can do more to empower the younger generation and show them that they have the capacity to succeed. But raising aspirations is only part of the challenge. 

Last month, I contributed to a report published by The 5% Club, a member organisation made up of employers committed to providing earn and learn opportunities. The report found that there are clear geographical and demographical imbalances that are harming the career prospects and opportunities of those from a disadvantaged background in the UK.

One of the key recommendations of the report was that awareness and communication needs to be at the forefront of change to help disadvantaged young people understand the opportunity that is available to them and what difference they can make. 

With major skills gaps widening in many of our key sectors, such as health and social care and teaching, raising awareness of the options available to young people and encouraging them to forge careers in those sectors struggling with retention and recruitment is vital.  

What can your business do? 

Former education secretary, Justine Greening MP is advocating for change to improve social mobility and she believes that although education plays a vital role in bridging the gap between different economic groups, we also need to look beyond that if we are to make real progress.

Justine set up the social mobility pledge to help create more equal opportunity across the UK, encouraging businesses to sign up and commit to providing access to opportunity and progression to all through work experience, apprenticeships, training and CPD.

Providing training and development opportunities to people from any background creates a more diverse and inclusive workforce which is proven to improve business performance. The UK is a melting pot of diverse communities made up of a multiplicity of religions, cultures and opinions.

It’s important that businesses create a workforce that represents this, one that will offer the best service and cater for its diverse customer base. I have long held the belief that if someone has the motivation, confidence and passion to succeed, with the right training and mentoring they can develop the skills they need to flourish. 

We need to start by instilling in young people a sense of self-belief, encouraging them and supporting them through their career if we are to help boost social mobility and ensure talent and opportunity is paramount to success. 


About the author

Fay Gibbin is CEO of BB Training Academy



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