I want to improve access to the professions for undergraduates from less-privileged backgrounds. My vision is to achieve this in partnership with employers, universities, and policy makers by running a targeted, three-year professional development programme. The on campus programme will empower participants with the non-academic capabilities critical to realising career potential.
Evidence shows that equal achievement at university does not translate into equal progression into the professions. What’s more, those graduates from less-privileged backgrounds who do access the professions earn less.
These academically talented undergraduates often lack the mentoring, soft skills, knowledge and professional experience critical for entry. As recruiters increasingly value these non-academic capabilities, fewer graduates from less-privileged backgrounds enter the professions, leaving their potential contribution unrealised. (Briefing: ow.ly/cfjja)
To improve access to the professions I aim to run a professional development programme that empowers these undergraduates to realise their career potential. I am therefore seeking funding for a six-month pilot, which will precede the launch of the full programme. The pilot and full programme will run concurrently with participants' degrees in collaboration with employers, and universities.
Workshops, networking events, professional mentoring, and internships will provide participants with the knowledge, contacts, role models, and relevant experience that they tend to lack and struggle to build.
My objective is to empower students from less-privileged backgrounds to achieve graduate outcomes that they may not otherwise have attained. For the wider community, this delivers improved social mobility and greater economic output. A report commissioned by the Sutton Trust revealed that ‘failing to improve low levels of social mobility will cost the UK economy up to £140 billion a year by 2050’.
Funded by London (September 2012)