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Home > News archive > January 2010 > 20 January 2010

Government announces plans to break through glass ceiling on social mobility

Business minister, Pat McFadden, has confirmed the Government's commitment to promoting the aspirations of all young people, whatever their background, and putting social mobility at the heart of plans for growth and success in the global economy.

The government is responding to Unleashing Aspiration, the final report from the Panel on Fair Access to the Professions, and has agreed to implement the vast majority of the panel's 88 recommendations.

The Panel, led by the Rt Hon Alan Milburn MP, challenged Government to do more to ensure that people with ability, creativity and talent can succeed in the professions, regardless of their social or economic background. Achieving this aspiration calls for reform in schools, in colleges, in universities and in the professions themselves.

The measures announced on Monday look to harness activity across Government and the professional associations. They include:

* The creation of an online National Internship Service, building on the 'Graduate Talent Pool' initiative. This free, nationwide service is designed to help undergraduates and graduates access opportunities and information to develop their employability skills and establish quality standards to benefit both interns and employers. The government says bursary funding will be available for students from low income backgrounds lacking the means to support themselves. This follows a commitment in the Pre-Budget Report to deliver £8m funding for up to 10,000 new undergraduate internships.

* A guarantee, building on the New Opportunities White Paper published last year, for around 130,000 of the brightest young people from low-income backgrounds to benefit from structured assistance at secondary school. Beginning in 2012, this package should include experience of Higher Education, mentoring and access to information, advice and guidance.

* A new Social Mobility Commission to provide evidence on trends and policy on social mobility, and produce an annual report on progress made towards a fairer, more socially mobile society.

* The launch of an expanded Gateways to the Professions Collaborative Forum with an increased remit covering a wider range of professions. Chaired by David Lammy, the minister for higher education and involving senior representatives from 60 key professions, the Forum will advise on and implement many of the panel's recommendations and will ask professional organisations to report on and share work done to improve access in each of their fields.

Prime minister, Gordon Brown, said: "My mission is to ensure that all of Britain's people, from every background, are given the opportunity to develop their talents and learn the skills which will transform their lives. And this social mobility must be rooted in our core value of fairness.

"In many ways society is already fairer. Six hundred thousand children have been lifted out of poverty, record numbers of our young people are going to university, one in three people of working age is a member of a profession, and the gender pay gap has narrowed.

"But we can't be a truly aspirational society if some people are still denied the chance to get on, and although we have raised the glass ceiling we have yet to break it. That is why our priority will be to remove all the barriers that are holding people back."

The Government response was co-ordinated by minister of state for business, innovation and skills. Pat McFadden. He said: "There are still great causes in politics and ensuring that people can achieve their potential based on their talent, hard work and character, regardless of their background, race or gender is one such great cause. We have made progress in raising, but must now break through, the glass ceiling of social mobility in this country.

"This isn't about class war - the real class war would be to tell people they should know their place and to continue restricting opportunity to a narrow group. This is about opening up opportunity to the broad majority in Britain, to ensure that those who have the ability also get the chance to do the kinds of professional jobs which are going to grow in number in future years. The measures we have announced in recent months, and the further steps we announce today will help raise the aspirations of young people and they demonstrate our long-term commitment to a more socially mobile society."

Monday's response aims to build on measures already announced in key strategy documents published last autumn, including:

* Higher Ambitions - measures designed to ensure wider and fairer access to Higher Education, a high-quality experience for all students and more flexible courses to reflect the reality of modern working lives.

* Skills for Growth - measures that aim to give people greater choice in their training including the national roll out of Skills Accounts and offer apprentices alternative routes into higher education and the professions.

* The DCSF's Quality, Choice and Aspiration: A strategy for young people's information, advice and guidance. This includes measures designed to modernise careers education to make it accessible for today's generation of young people and ensure they have equal access to the careers of their choice.

In addition, in September the Prime Minister announced that the Government was joining forces with the Federation of Small Business (FSB) to boost the employability of up to 10,000 graduates, through internships in small and micro businesses.

External links

Further information on the government's Response to Unleashing Aspiration can be found at: www.bis.gov.uk/unleashingaspiration

Training Reference is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites.

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