Social Mobility Matters

Jul 14, 2021

In the last two months, we have seen a myriad of research being published to highlight the developments taking place around social mobility, and raising awareness to the issues that those most vulnerable in the UK are facing because of these developments. This blog piece captures just a few of the many important happenings and publications, read more below: 


National Foundation of Educational Research – The Skills Imperative 2035: 

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has announced they will be leading a new five-year research programme, The Skills Imperative 2035: Essential skills for tomorrow’s workforce, which will be funded by the Nuffield Foundation. The economy and the nature of employment is rapidly changing all the time, the pandemic has only done more to increase the difficulties that young people and those making steps into work are facing. The programme highlights the importance of essential employment skills, and its main aim will be to identify these skills that people will need to work, until the year 2035 and offer recommendations to begin bridging the skills gap. 

This initiative is paramount to ensuring that in the coming decade these young people can develop these skills and learn how to properly utilise them, preparing them for the world of work, as “the UK cannot afford the widespread social and economic consequences of stumbling into the next 10 to 15 years without supporting the existing workforce and young people in education to develop essential employment skills.” 

Read more about the programme here.


Sutton Trust – Inequality in the Highest Degree?: 

The Sutton Trust have published new research and found that, over the past few years, changes to higher education have taken place which has allowed more young people the opportunity to go on to postgraduate study, regardless of their socio-economic background. One of the most significant changes has been the introduction of student loans, which have helped to start to close the widening gap and ensure that university has become an obtainable goal for less advantaged young people. 

Despite this, the report goes on to emphasise that there is still a huge disadvantage for graduates from less advantaged backgrounds compared to their counterparts, as the Sutton Trust state “there is now a risk that postgraduate degrees become the new frontier of social mobility, with better-off graduates using higher degrees to differentiate themselves in a competitive job market.” It has been found that at the UK’s top universities, since 2011, there has been a 101% increase in fees at postgraduate levels, which threatens to wipe out any progress that has been made.  

“When it comes to social mobility, the goalposts are always moving.” This is important research published, as it shows that there is continuously more work to be done in order for us to ensure the widening gap in the UK is closed.  

Read the full report: Inequality in the Highest Degree? – Sutton Trust 


Department for Education – Unemployment Rate article: 

The Department for Education put out research last month which demonstrated that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment amongst recent graduates has risen to higher levels than we have seen in a long time. The DfE has also indicated that young people are bearing the brunt of the job shortages that have resulted from the pandemic, suggesting “that the employment of young people is disproportionately influenced by changing structural conditions in the economy.” 

Read more here.


Social Mobility Commission – Against The Odds report 

Last month, the Social Mobility Commission launched their ‘Against the Odds’ report which looks at how the progress gap in secondary schools has continued to widen, despite the fact that for many of these schools, pupil premium funding has become a ‘vital component’. 

The Commission have concluded that there is no one solution to the issue at large and have gone on to recommend their pupil premium primer, which has been designed to help secondary schools reflect on their approach to reducing this increasing gap and to support socio-economically disadvantaged students. 

Read the full report here: Against the odds – GOV.UK ( 


ITV News – research 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on education, and whilst many institutions have been able to adapt to remote learning, we have continued to see limitations to its effectiveness. ITV News have recently published new research that found throughout the UK, school students have lost out on around one-third of their learning time, with the suggestion that “in England on average [pupils] lost 61 days of schooling between March 2020 and April 2021.” Whilst we are beginning to see the restrictions in the UK being lifted, there is still a lot that needs to be done to make up for these lost days and ensure that there isn’t an increase in children who are left behind, contributing to the attainment gap. 

Read ITV’s research here.

The UK Social Mobility Awards is a fundraising initiative for the registered charity, Making The Leap.

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