Britains professions becoming more socially exclusive
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Issued 14 April 2009
INDEPENDENT PANEL PUBLISHES FIRST REPORT ON ACCESS TO THE
The Panel on Fair Access to the Professions, led by Alan
has today published a first research paper highlighting key trends and
issues in access to the Professions.
report identifies where progress had been made to widen access to
professions such as law, medicine, media, publishing, Civil Service and
banking for young people but also identifies where barriers still
The research report finds that
many of Britain's professions have become more socially exclusive and
that, as a consequence, bright children from average income families,
not just those from more disadvantaged backgrounds, are missing out on
a professional career.
Amongst its key findings the report says:
* Over half of professional occupations like law and finance
currently dominated by people from independent schools which are
attended by just 7% of the population
* 75% of judges and 45% of top civil servants were
* A typical professional born in 1958 came from a family which
17% more than the average family income; but by 1970 the family income
gap between those who went on to pursue a professional career and the
average family had risen to 27% with journalism and accountancy seeing
the biggest rise
* Lawyers who were born in 1970 grew up in families 64% above
the average family's income and for doctors the figure was 63%
* By contrast the teaching, academic and cultural professions
decline in numbers who had grown up in families with above average
The report stresses that this
data reflects entry to the Professions as it was in previous decades.
It also stresses the social pattern may be changing as recent evidence
suggests that the link between family background and levels of
educational attainment is being weakened. In addition many professions
have taken action to address access issues and the report points to
progress, for example, on narrowing the pay gap between male and female
Panel Chair, the Rt. Hon. Alan Milburn MP said:
"This research report is in an important piece of work that
the Panel a solid basis for making our recommendations. It shows that,
whilst progress has been made, there is still a long way to go to
ensure that all young people get a fair crack of the whip when it comes
to pursuing a professional career.
"It is shocking that despite the best efforts of many
professions they seem to have become more not less socially exclusive.
"Bright children from middle class families as well as those
from poorer backgrounds are missing out on top professional jobs.
"Many professions are working hard to put this right but
their efforts need to be intensified.
"Both the Professions and the Government have to do more to
talent pool if Britain is to recruit the estimated 7 million new
professionals we will need by 2020."
The research report identifies five key entry steps where
support can be targeted:
1. Young people's aspirations: Only 1 in 5 young people from
backgrounds and 1 in 8 young people from poorer backgrounds currently
aspire to be a professional. This compares to 2 in 5 young people whose
parents are already in the Professions.
2. Careers and development support for young people: 7 in 10
people are unhappy with the careers support they receive, whether
through Connexions or schools.
experience in the Professions: Over 9 in 10 young people who have been
interns say that it helped raise their aspirations and improved their
CV, and 4 in 5 employers recruit former interns. However, a
disproportionate number of internships are in London and the South
4. Recruitment & Selection: 7 in 10 of the top
graduate employers target only 20 of the 167 UK universities.
5. Flexible routes for entry and progression: There has been a
term decline in the non-graduate routes into the Professions. Today,
only 27 of the Times Top 100 Employers accept alternative entry routes,
such as non-graduate entry.
Access Panel was commissioned by the Prime Minister to review the
processes and structures that govern recruitment into the professions,
and make recommendations to both the Government and the Professions on
action that will improve access for all.
The Panel will publish a further report summarising evidence
professional bodies and other stakeholders, including from the Panel's
national Call for Evidence, before it makes its final recommendations
in the early summer.
1. The Panel was announced in January as part of the
Opportunities White Paper, outlining the Government's strategy to
improve social mobility.
2. The Panel
consists of eighteen representatives from the Professions, (including
the media, law, business and finance, architecture, politics, and
medicine) with the Rt. Hon. Alan Milburn MP as Chair. For a full list
of representatives and Professions and further information:
3. The panel's work will not touch on the wider drivers of
mobility as covered elsewhere in the New Opportunities White Paper, and
will not look at employment law, illegal discrimination, or wider
issues of equality such as race or gender.
4. The Panel first convened in February, and are now focusing
on the following five issues:
* Young people's knowledge of, and aspiration to enter the
* Supporting young people to develop the soft skills required for the
* Providing opportunities for practical experience of working in the
* Encouraging fair selection processes
* Increasing flexible routes into, and opportunities for progression
within, the Professions
About the Author
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-04-14 18:46:23 in Employee Articles