Classroom regrets holding workers back - Social Mobility research shows 48% have study regrets

October 2019: Most adults in the UK wish they had tried harder at school to achieve a better career, while 31 per cent believe they selected the wrong university course, a social mobility study shows. 

A majority (58 per cent) of UK adults say they wish they had tried harder at school, while 48 per cent would change the subjects they took at school.

Almost half (49 per cent) say that their school subject choices have not helped them when applying for jobs. 

Regrets over not working hard enough at school are highest among 35 to 44-year-olds (61 per cent) and lowest in the over 55s (36 per cent).

The research involving 2,000 UK adults is part of an ongoing study into the causes of Britain’s widespread lack of social mobility, or equality of opportunity. 

For social mobility to occur, people must be able to fulfil their potential without being unfairly hindered by their upbringing, where they were born or their perceived social class.  

The Social Mobility Pledge initiative was founded by former Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, and David Harrison, chair of the Harrison Centre for Social Mobility.

It aims to encourage employers to play a bigger role in challenging and changing the UK’s poor record on social mobility. 

Over 350 organisations representing 2.8 million workers have signed up to the Pledge. 

Justine Greening progressed to frontline politics from a working-class upbringing in which her own family experienced unemployment. She was the first member of her family to go to university and later became the first Education Secretary to have attended a comprehensive school. 

Commenting on the research Justine said: 

“These results show classroom regrets are holding workers back and that's why it is so vital for employers to get into schools and talk about careers. We can see that because students often don’t know where they are aiming, they can lack motivation and unsurprisingly so many feel they have made the wrong choices. 

“That’s why I set up the Social Mobility Pledge so that the next generation of children know what they’re aiming for and they can succeed in later lie.

“The challenge for Britain now is to create an employment sector in which people have the confidence to pursue fulfilling careers without hitting unfair barriers, such as those perpetuated through the UK’s lack of social mobility. 

“As we have seen through the success of the Social Mobility Pledge, many employers are willing to support fairer recruitment practices and reward people for talent and effort, not background or connections.”

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The Social Mobility Pledge is a commitment from businesses large and small across Britain to become a Social Mobility Pledge employer taking the three steps below:

  1. Partnering directly with schools or colleges to provide coaching through quality careers advice, enrichment experience and/or mentoring to people from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances. Businesses can work through the many social mobility charities and organisations, such as Speakers for Schools, Inspiring the Future, the Princes Trust, the Careers and Enterprise Company, that are already there to help businesses and employers do more on the ground.
  2. Access - providing structured work experience and/or apprenticeship opportunities to people from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances
  3. Recruitment - adopting open employee recruitment practices which promote a level playing field for people from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances, such as name blind recruitment or contextual recruitment. 

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