Milburn says glass ceiling is scratched but not yet broken… The top professions in the UK remain elitist and social mobility has stagnated in the UK according to Alan Milburn who the Government asked to carry out a review.
Milburn reported that the senior positions remain off limit or a “closed shop” and that in order to introduce greater diversity into the top decision-making roles then radical work was needed to change attitudes, access, career advice and the recruitment process itself.
Milburn, a Labour MP unveiled the report entitled Fair Access to Professional Careers on June 1 and states that not enough progress has been made in the area of social mobility since his previous Unleashing Aspiration report in 2009 which set out a plan to make the senior professions more accessible to those who would not traditionally be involved at those high-powered boardroom levels.
Milburn outlined his disappointment at the lack of progress since his initial report:
“Three years ago I found that for all the efforts that the professions had made to expand the pool of talent from which they recruited, they had actually become more – not less – socially exclusive over time.”
“Three years on, this report asks what progress has been made. The answer is not yet enough. Across the professions as a whole, the glass ceiling has been scratched but not broken. The professions still lag way behind the social curve.”
The findings in the new report include the fact that almost half (43%) of barristers in the UK had been educated at a fee-paying secondary school with 32% of this group continuing on to study at Oxbridge. Another revelation from the report was that a mere 13 private schools in the UK provided one in ten of all current MPS.
At University level, the report found that 57% of medical students come from the top socio-economic group with only 7% of medical students coming from the lower socio-economic groups.
The report states that “private schools, which educate only 7 per cent of all pupils, continue to have a stranglehold on our country’s top jobs, the next generation of our country’s lawyers, doctors and journalists are likely to be a mirror image of previous generations”.
While Milburn accepted that some organisations had embraced the need for greater diversity, he also warned that the difficult economic climate could make social mobility a lower priority, as he alluded to “a risk that improving fair access to professional careers becomes sidelined”.
Milburn will publish two further reports on social mobility – looking at the role universities play and government’s strategy on dealing with child poverty.