Social mobility grinds to a halt

The government has hurt employers in its failed attempt to increase social mobility, MPs and industry leaders claim.

A report on the issue by the independent Social Mobility Commission out today claims social background remains a major obstacle to children’s life opportunities.

Martin Narey, chief executive of the children’s charity Barnardo’s and chair of the commission, said the government’s investment in education had been only partially successful.

“The government has put a great deal of investment into easing disadvantage,” he said. “They have had some success but much more needs to be done.”

Shadow work and pensions secretary Chris Grayling told Personnel Today that the government had failed working class people.

“We are wasting a huge proportion of our workforce, literally millions of people, because social mobility has ground to a halt and there is a total poverty of aspiration in so many communities,” said Grayling.

“Social mobility has ground to a complete halt in many parts of Britain, with generational worklessness and educational failure blighting many communities and family breakdown doing real damage to the prospects of many young people,” he said.

Earlier this week, former cabinet minister Alan Milburn was appointed by prime minister Gordon Brown to get more working class people into professional jobs.

He said much of the blame for the social divide lay on the shoulders of the education system.

“Although any move to open up professions seen as elitist should be applauded, it is far more important for the government to focus on reducing the inequalities in the education system,” Milburn said.

Universities have previously rejected claims that their purpose was as “engines of social justice”.

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