upReach - Celebrating 10 years of Improving Social Mobility

On the 4th of May the Charity upReach, that works to create conditions for undergraduates from less-advantaged backgrounds to access and sustain top graduate jobs, celebrated their 10 year anniversary. One of our Consultants, Rhiannon Griffiths, who was involved in the organisation whilst studying at the University of Exeter, was invited along to attend as one of their alumni.

The event was an opportunity to learn more about the fantastic work and mission of the Charity and hear how they’ve gone from strength to strength over the past couple of years. Importantly, it was also a chance to increase awareness and keep abreast of the latest market intelligence on social mobility so to ensure publishing organisations have this front of mind, in their mission to make sure we are a diverse and inclusive industry.

Firstly we heard from the Chair of Trustees, Edward Astle, who explained how the Charity had accelerated during the pandemic, he then handed over to John Craven, upReach CEO who gave an inspiring history of the organisation, which started with three partner organisations – the University of Exeter (where Rhiannon attended) KPMG and Deloitte. upReach now has partnerships with over 70 top employers and Universities and supports thousands of students to understand their career options, improve their soft skills and make job applications.

There have been various pieces of research which have shown how privately educated students will fare better in work and education than their state school educated equivalents. upReach’s website states that “A student from a disadvantaged background who gains a first class degree from a top University is less likely to secure an elite job than a more privileged student with a 2.2.” Interestingly, some comparative research on the soft skills of students found that the privately educated scored higher on leadership but lower in resilience and determination. upReach does it’s best to use the perseverance of their associates and support them to have the confidence to apply for the same opportunities.

We then heard from Lee Elliot-Major OBE, the first in the world Professor of Social Mobility at the University of Exeter. Unfortunately, he confirmed that social mobility is getting worse – for people born in the 2000’s, it is the first time since the war that you are likely to have a harder time than your parents. The pandemic has accelerated this, and research from LSE showed that private school students were twice as likely to get a full day of learning during Covid-19 in comparison to state school students. There is little mobility at the top of society – leaders in the workplace are around 50% privately educated, whereas in the UK only 7% of schools are private. Every Prime Minister from the war onwards has gone to the University of Oxford, however the number of state school students has gone up at Oxbridge. Where you live also makes a difference, and of course talent comes from all over the country but there aren’t opportunities in every area – upReach has now opened offices regionally across Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol and Newcastle, as well as London to ensure a wider reach.

This is of course just one issue within Diversity and Inclusion, but one not to be forgotten about. There can be socio-economic divides within the workplace so it’s important to ensure that everyone has a voice, everyone feels included and respected. In publishing, we see the importance of making the content inclusive, accessible and representative, and as publishing recruitment experts we are doing our best to represent people from all backgrounds – as a team we are trained on unconscious bias and champion diversity and inclusion across the publishing landscape.

If your organisation would like to get involved with upReach, find out more here: https://upreach.org.uk/.