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Getting into the Professions

31 01.13

upReach has found that the professions are not socially representative, a position that has not changed in the last twenty years. Professional groups such as barristers, top journalists, CEOs of FTSE 100 companies and finance directors contain disproportionately high numbers of independently -educated employees. upReach found that once at selective universities, undergraduates from less-privileged backgrounds perform comparably with their more-privileged peers but this is not matched by equal access to the professions. They found that 58% of state-school-educated graduates were in professional employment six months after graduating compared to 74% of independently-educated-graduates.

upReach has identified four non-academic capabilities valued by employers that undergraduates from less-privileged backgrounds tend to lack:

  • knowledge about different options and how to achieve them
  • soft skills such as problem-solving and teamwork
  • connections and access to professional networks that provide privileged information, role models and internship opportunities
  • relevant professional experience that will give them the edge in finding employment.

upReach is developing its own programme in universities and with employers to help undergraduates from less-privileged backgrounds develop these non-academic capabilities; but this type of initiative clearly can and should start in schools. Download 'Access to the Professions for Undergraduates from Less-Privileged Backgrounds - The Issue (upReach, November 2012) here