The Social Mobility Challenge

Talent is everywhere, but all too often opportunity isn’t. The futures of far too many young people in the UK are determined by background, not potential. We exist to fix this social mobility challenge.

“At every stage of the life-cycle we are losing gifted people who could be participating more in our society… We must act decisively to change it.”

The Social Mobility Commission: The State of the Nation Report 2018-19

What is social mobility?

Social mobility is more than children from council estates becoming CEOs. It is securing the first stable job when your family has experienced generations of unstable employment. It is being the first in your family to go on to higher education. It is the freedom to choose what you want to do with your life and where you do it.

However, all too often, young people’s talents and hopes go unrealised due to their background.

Social mobility in the UK

It is certainly true that many young people go on to achieve great things in this country, thanks to their hard work and the help of their families, teachers, and wider networks of support. But these instances are all too uncommon and we face long-standing, structural issues across the UK.

Those from affluent backgrounds are 80% more likely to be in a professional job than their working class peers – The State of the Nation Report 2018-19; The Social Mobility Commission
Britain’s elite are five times more likely to have attended private school – Elitist Britain 2019; The Sutton Trust
Only 16% of young people on FSM attain at least two A-Levels by the age of 19 – The State of the Nation Report 2018-19; The Social Mobility Commission

Social mobility and levelling-up

All too often social mobility also relies too much on being able to move to areas where life chances are higher. The economic domination of London and other large cities has meant that the greatest career rewards, in economic terms, are received by those who are willing and able to move to large, ‘escalator’ cities.

This has led to a growing recognition of the importance of place in an individual’s outcomes and the need to level up local communities, avoiding ‘brain drain’, and an exodus of young people from market towns, coastal, and rural areas.

of people in the north-east of England think that there are good opportunities for them to make progress compared with 78% in London; Social Mobility Barometer, The Social Mobility Commission
of the 50 most deprived Local Authorities in England are in the North West of England; Office of National Statistics
in areas of low social mobility, it is far harder for someone from a deprived background to escape deprivation. Up to 33% of the pay gap is driven by non-educational factors; The Long Shadow of Deprivation, The Social Mobility Commission

Why boosting social mobility is good for business and society

Businesses can be powerful drivers of social mobility by providing opportunities for young people. But they can also benefit from investing in young talent and boosting social mobility.

Supporting young talent and creating social mobility opportunities can help businesses of all sizes and sectors to:

  • Develop a future talent pipeline
  • Create a culture which supports diversity and inclusion
  • Add fresh perspectives and insights to their operations
  • Reflect their customer base and wider society
  • Achieve environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) outcomes

And our research and evidence shows that investing in young talent has a positive impact on the wider economic landscape.

of young people would turn down roles in companies with poor ESG credentials; Opinium and Bupa
Increased lifetime productivity of £23 million per Career Ready cohort of 1,800 young people; Career Ready & Probono Economics
The UK could add £38bn to its GDP by reducing the number of young people not in education, employment or training to German levels – Youth Employment Index 2022, PWC and Youth Futures Foundation

How to boost social mobility

“Our research and experience show that paid internships are rocket fuel for social mobility and an effective way for employers to future-proof their business. SMEs in particular can be great drivers of localised social mobility opportunities.”

Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa, CEO of Career Ready

As charity, our mission is to work with employers to support young people, schools, and colleges who – research shows – face barriers that cause their talents to often go undiscovered and unfulfilled.

We work together to deliver a programme of paid internships, mentoring, skills masterclass, and wider workplace activities. And, over the next three years, we aim to work with more employers and guarantee a paid internship to every young person on our programme.

How we work with employers

Join us in boosting social mobility:

Fill in the form and we’ll be in touch to discuss how your business can invest in young talent and transform their life outcomes:


Fill in the form and we’ll be in touch to discuss how your business can support social mobility.