Employers visited Birmingham and Warwick universities more than Oxford this year. Although it’s too early to decry the demise of the Oxbridge education, David Johnston, Chief Executive of the Social Mobility Foundation believes that things might be changing. “We have been very impressed by the efforts employers are making to ensure their organisation is open to talent from all backgrounds,” he explains.
“We can really see organisations taking a whole host of actions to try and ensure that they have a diverse workforce in terms of socio-economic background as well as in terms of gender and race; they in turn are benefitting from accessing a much wider talent pool than they have traditionally recruited from. All entrants should be praised for broadening their approach,” he adds.
Social mobility for young people
Johnston joined the Social Mobility Foundation after finding success leading Future, a charity which supports organisations working with young people. Before that he ran the Oxford Access Scheme which encourages young people to consider higher education and the University of Oxford. During his tenure he doubled the number of people taking part in the programme.
David’s comments come with the release of the 2018 Social Mobility Index. Results from a wide-range of employers, across the country, shows that 74% of businesses feel their clients now care about the socio-economic diversity of their organisation’s workforce. Race (77%) and gender (86%) were also reported as key priorities.
Over half of employer visits in 2018 were to Russell Group universities, compared to 70% last year. However, Oxford and Cambridge were still visited more than 75 other universities other combined (down from over 110 universities combined in the 2017 Index). The data collected does show significant increases in visits to other universities in large cities as employers try to find more diverse undergraduates. Those from private schools remain over-represented at all levels in highly successful UK corporations.
Which universities bring the best jobs?
The access question is a problem Johnston has previously recognised. “You need to look at exactly who gets on in the world of work, especially in the professions. Those who have access to work experience – those already plugged into a network,” he said,“Those who went to the right schools – of which there are a tiny number. And those who have the “right” soft skills or “polish,” Johnston has explained.
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