Elitism in Britain 2019


Britain’s most influential people are over 5 times more likely to have attended private schools, according to the latest Social Mobility Commission report.

With just 7% of British people being privately educated, this report brings to light the huge disparity between those who attended private school and those who did not. In partnership with the Sutton Trust, the Social Mobility Commission report maps the educational backgrounds of leading figures across 9 broad areas: business, politics, the media, Whitehall, public bodies, public servants, local government, the creative industries and women in sport

The research claims that power rests with the 7% of the population who attend private schools and 1% who graduate from Oxbridge, revealing a ‘pipeline’ from fee-paying schools through to Oxbridge and into top jobs. The findings show the large percentage of private schools alumni across various public bodies and influential jobs:

  • Senior judges – 65%
  • Civil Service permanent secretaries – 59%
  • The House of Lords – 57%
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office diplomats – 52%
  • Newspaper columnists – 44% (with a third attending both private schools and oxbridge)
  • Best-selling Popstars – 30%
  • Top actors – 44%

The report recommends:

  • Tackling financial barriers to specific industries and professions, especially by paying internships lasting a significant length of time (This echoes the findings of our 2019 Youth Census report, which identified travel cost as one of the biggest barriers to employment for young people)
  • Adopting contextual recruitment and admissions practices to enter top universities and industries
  • Tackling social segregation in schools through fairer admissions practices in comprehensive and grammar schools and opening up private schools.

Youth Employment UK reflections

At Youth Employment UK we understand the huge benefits that a diverse workforce can bring and are committed to working with all sectors to encourage fair and inclusive recruitment of young talent.

The Youth Friendly Employer Mark supports employers to engage, recruit and retain young people from all backgrounds, while our Young Professional resources and Careers Hub raise aspirations for young people, introducing them to a range of sectors and equipping them with those essential ‘work ready’ skills that their privately educated peers may have had more of an opportunity to develop through education.

We know there is much more work to do and we look forward to supporting more organisations to ensure that access to every sector and every employer is fair for all.

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For more information, please email info@youthemployment.org.uk or call 01536 513388.

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