Posted on 22nd February 2022

studying at university

Many believe their organisation is doing little to support the career development of those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has shown. Respondents also believe that once in work an employee's background continues to impact their career progression.

CMI found that 53% of those in management roles are from a high socio-economic background, compared to 38% from a low socio-economic background. And a third (33%) of respondents believe socio-economic background is a barrier to progression to moving up to executive level, with 31% believing it is a barrier to achieving a role at middle management level within their organisations.

And organisations appear to be sidelining those unable or unwilling to undertake higher education, with only 14% of those questioned by CMI saying that their organisations specifically reached out to school leavers as part of their recruitment process.

Additionally, CMI's research has shown little knowledge of or take up of Government schemes that help firms bring on school leavers with organisations instead focusing on attracting and retaining graduates.

CMI found that only 3% of respondents said their organisation used the Restart programme, only 14% used Kickstart, and 18% used Government traineeship schemes. By comparison, three times as many organisations are running graduate schemes compared to providing opportunities for school leavers.

Ann Francke, Chief Executive of the CMI, said "Education and training play an important role in improving social mobility. Your socio-economic background is an important factor in your ability or willingness to access higher education and it looks like employers are overlooking this when it comes to recruitment - and then again when it comes to career progression".

"In the UK today your background should be irrelevant when it comes to your choice of career and how your career progresses. Unfortunately our research shows that's not the case. There appears to be a widespread acceptance that where you come from will determine the direction of your career path, and an unfortunate reality that employers aren't doing enough to disprove this."

We are seeing painfully low adoption rates of Government schemes to encourage employment of school leavers, with employers still focusing overwhelmingly on graduates, and graduates from certain universities. Graduates are of course vital to business success but both they and school leavers should be target groups for recruitment. Focusing on one over the other is wrong - the playing field needs levelling up.

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