A 2009 study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that Britain has the lowest levels of intergenerational mobility. Meaning children born to poor families are less able to break free of their background.
Behind all these studies and data there are children whose lives are impaired by societal and hiring attitudes. According to the Economist, “just over 7% of British children are privately educated, yet over 40% of those at Oxford and Cambridge were“. This follows through to career attainment. It’s easier to crack your way into law, finance, media or politics if you’ve been to university with people who belong to those circles. According to a 2012 study in the American Sociological Review, “employers sought candidates who were not only competent but also culturally similar to themselves”. Sociologists call this “elite self-recruitment”, quite unashamedly employes seek ‘cultural capital’, another sociological term, which defines a set of attitudes and beliefs required to enter the elite. Depressingly, a third of the UK’s leading people went to Oxford or Cambridge universities and four out of every 10 of them attended private schools.
If Britain is to claw its way out of the 1900’s, its needs people on the inside of the top professions to disrupt these practices. The Social Mobility Foundation is helping youth adults behind elite lines.
They aim to give people a real insight into top professions and to provide them with the skills needed to achieve their aspirations. They are one of the charities being supported through Build The 5,000. Launched on International Volunteer Day 2014, Build The 5,000 is a year long initiative to join the best minds with the toughest problems.