Social Mobility & Social Justice

Social Mobility & Careers Education

Friday 12th February 2016

Earlier this week I attended the Bridge Group Conference at KPMG in Canary Wharf. Apparently there was a waiting list of over 500 people that wanted to attend. It was a lively event which looked at widening participation and coincided with the publication of their report Graduate Outcomes & Social Mobility.

The theme of the day was Policy to Support Access to University and the Professions and the tone of the day was set early

Nik Miller from @bridge_group: 3 themes for the day are collaboration, transparency and evidence #bgconference

— Andrew Berwick (@Andrew_TAP) February 9, 2016

However, two things kept bugging me throughout the day.

1) That apprenticeships were not included in the agenda.
2) The amount of times collaboration and teamwork were mentioned but equally how often the lack of 'joined up thinking' between schools and universities was alluded to.

The Role of Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships appeared to have completely left off the agenda until the Panel Debate: What are the Roles and Responsibilities of Employers in Supporting Social Mobility

When asked about the effect of apprenticeships the legal firm Linklaters' representative Felix Hebblethwaite was quite dismissive of legal apprenticeships saying he was not yet convinced by them. In contrast Tom Banham from Nestle felt that they could be transforming. Whilst Dr Louise Ashley from Royal Holloway UofL was quoted as saying

ouise Ashley: apprentices can be similar in background to traditional grads. Still need to work to find diverse candidates

— Andrew Berwick (@Andrew_TAP) February 9, 2016

Lord Willetts in his afternoon session had a viewpoint - which appeared to ignore the fact that apprenticeships can lead to degrees.

Lord Willetts: apprenticeships not key to social mobility as top jobs will always go to uni grads w/ "useful, generic skills" #bgconference

— Rachel Hall (@RachelHall_HE) February 9, 2016
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Indeed he seemed to be quite biased against them

Lord Willetts: concerned abt potential risk that apprenticeships will create two tracks in the employment market @bridge_group#bgconference

— Andrew Berwick (@Andrew_TAP) February 9, 2016