Book News: November 11th, 2008

This document from the Cabinet Office analyses the trends and drivers of social mobility. It identifies the critical importance of factors that have an impact on people’s life chances including the care and development of children in their early years, the quality of schools, continued and high quality education and training post16 and constantly improving the skills of the workforce.

It describes the core aspects of social mobility as ensuring there are better jobs for each successive generation, so children can do better than their parents and making sure that there are fairer chances, so that everyone has the opportunity to access those jobs in line with their potential.

The UK’s record on making sure people have a fair chance to get these better jobs does not compare well internationally, although the situation is improving. A person’s social background still makes a marked difference to the opportunities they have.

The document notes that a relatively high proportion of UK children did not attain school qualifications. Those who leave school with few qualifications are overwhelmingly from particular social backgrounds. Overall educational attainment has improved recently and is improving at a faster rate for previously lower performing groups. Evidence suggests teachers have a significant impact on future potential, but good teachers are less likely to be in schools facing challenging circumstances.

Gaining post16 qualifications is crucial in providing people with the capabilities and skills needed to move up into the best jobs. Those who choose vocational routes into work tend to be from disadvantaged social backgrounds, and they receive less
support from government. Being NEET (not in employment, education or training) affects future life chances and those who are NEET are disproportionately from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

The document is available from the Cabinet Office.