Join us at Cumberland Lodge in the heart of Windsor Great Park, on 7 and 8 March 2022, for a cross-sector, roundtable conference on ‘Shaping Social Mobility: Education & Employment’.
This conference brings together a diverse delegation of academics, policymakers, young people and future leaders, business representatives and teachers to better understand the underlying issues around social mobility and rethink best ways to improve it from a cross-sector, interdisciplinary perspective.
Despite decades of policies designed to improve social mobility and increase the number of people who are not from White middle-class backgrounds in top jobs, educational attainment, university choices, occupation, and earnings are all influenced by socio-economic background.
Participation in full-time education by 16-18 year olds has continued to rise since 2000, to stand at 73%, however the expansion of education at university level means that competition for university places is particularly fierce. Whilst university application rates amongst students from disadvantaged backgrounds are rising, those from more affluent backgrounds are rising more quickly, potentially increasing the gap between the social classes. Once at university, students from less privileged backgrounds can struggle to fit in with their culturally-dominant peers and adapt to new social norms that are unfamiliar to them and sometimes hostile. Students report feelings of shame and marginalisation. Similarly, institutions or workplaces are not always equipped to support those who are not from White and/or poorer backgrounds to fit in, flourish and progress.
When it comes to employment, following years of upward social mobility, there is little room left at the top, and young people have to deploy significant social and cultural capital in order to climb the professional ladder. Students who undertake vocational courses at post-16, or who leave the education system at 18 to go straight into work, are sometimes perceived to have achieved less and be less entitled to higher salaries. On top of this, the pandemic has increased challenges, for example, by widening the attainment gap and reducing internships or work experience opportunities.
In this conference, we will discuss the latest research on social mobility. We will identify promising practices from the UK and further afield.
From a cross-sector lens, we ask:
- Does the term social mobility still have currency?
- Does it describe the problem of intergenerational immobility in a useful way?
- How has COVID-19 affected our perception of, and the reality of social mobility?
- How can we support people from all backgrounds to engage with educational and employment opportunities on the basis of pride, worth, enjoyment and work/life balance, rather than on prestige, family legacy, social class or tradition?
- What shifts are needed for our systems to embrace and value socioeconomic diversity?
The key themes of discussion, cross-sector recommendations and examples of best practice from this conference will be presented in a Cumberland Lodge Report on ‘Shaping Social Mobility: Education & Employment’. The report will be authored by our freelance Research Associate, Esme Lillywhite.
The report will be reviewed and refined at an expert consultation and launched in central London and published online and in print in 2022.
We warmly welcome all registrations of interest in attending, but attendance will be by invitation only, to ensure broad and balanced representation. If you would like to be part of this conference, please follow the 'Make Enquiry' button on this webpage, or email Emily Gow at firstname.lastname@example.org, to let us know how and why you would like to contribute.
As with all our work at Cumberland Lodge, we aim to incorporate the voices of young people to explore how they view socio-economic justice and the future of social mobility.