According to this excellent article in the Independent, prejudice, blocking social mobility in the UK, is widespread. It’s a must-read. Check it out!
via ‘Poshness test’ is the new glass ceiling: Working-class denied top jobs as firms prefer ‘well-travelled candidates with the right accent’ – Home News – UK – The Independent.
The article examines research by Alan Milburn’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission.
Of course, there has always been prejudice in the UK, in favor of the privileged, those with family wealth and social connections.
During my early career, I found that ambitious, hard-working and talented people from working-class backgrounds often had an edge – they’d grown up in the school of ‘hard-knocks’ and were quicker to seize opportunities, where privileged people felt socially uncomfortable and ill-prepared.
These days, increasingly, with downsizing, offshoring, robotics, and increasing deployment of technology, there are fewer jobs to go round, so there’s a different challenge. People with connections get the unpaid work experience in privileged organizations in their holidays and they are able to do exotic things in their gap year etc.
It’s commendable that the UK government and some leading firms are committed to social mobility. But the reality is that there is not a level playing field.
Let me turn this to an open open question:
Do you think that UK social mobility would be improved by re-introducing national service for all eighteen year olds, like in Israel for example?
Sadly the answer to Dr Alf’s open question is no,increased social mobility in the UK will never happen on a grand scale until the country becomes a republic and the aristocracy are a thing of the past.
Social mobility is the province of citizens with full rights and responsibilities not “subjects” of an unelected monarchy which wields absolute power behind the scenes but pretends not to.
At the time the 11 plus examination was abolished and comprehensive schooling came in the chances of someone with a working class background getting into university were 1 in 25,000.
The odds of them getting into Oxford or Cambridge were at least 5 times worse than that.
It has been possible for people with working class backgrounds to make money via the internet,property portfolios and in their own fields if they were exceptionally talented,informed and determined to the extent that someone with an Oxbridge education could never imagine having to be like.
Most of these people lack the “street smarts” and determination of people from immigrant backgrounds and like to have their thinking done for them.
Thus the already wealthy and featherbedded continue to have the edge over those that could not afford “gap years” for their overindulged offspring like this rather stupid 23 year old from Derbyshire who was arrested in Malaysia a strict Muslim country with an authoritarian regime,for posing naked on a mountain and having selfies taken of her.
Even if a working class person has travelled to exotic locations the fact that they may have got there by unconventional means or did not go to the same school or university as the person interviewing them is enough to ensure that their candidature is rejected regardless of ability.
Wearing the wrong kinds of shoes,suit ,shirt or tie or even knotting it the wrong way marks the working class person out as either a “non person” or as a person who is definitely “not one of us”.
That situation has been going on in this country for my entire life and for at least 800 years before that.
It will go on being like that but with glacially paced change but Dr Alf and I will never live to see it unless we both discover the “elixir of youth” or become shareholders on a major scale in the Geron Corporation in Texas.