City of London’s 2019 social mobility initiatives

Catherine McGuinness

As we draw closer to the end of another momentous year in politics, it’s a time to reflect and look forward to the future. With all the Brexit noise, social mobility is one of the issues that has certainly not got enough airtime.

There is too often a lack of opportunity for people from less financially advantaged families, who sometimes struggle to find a place within the workforce or climb the career ladder.

As a society we must do more to support social mobility, ensuring that people receive the guidance, support, and opportunity to find a career that they are passionate about.

That’s why we launched our ambitious 10-year social mobility strategy, which seeks to play a part towards levelling London’s playing field, and making it fairer too, helping everyone to participate and succeed. We want to connect young Londoners to the career opportunities offered in this great City in which we live, work and visit.

So, in June this year, we linked over 175 global businesses, including Google, KPMG and Amazon, with more than 5,000 young Londoners from 130 schools, sixth-form colleges and youth groups for the City’s biggest ever careers festival.

I was proud to see at first-hand businesses talking pupils through the work experience and skills needed for successful careers in their industries. But it is not all about skills and talent. It’s about care and education, too.

Evidence shows that during the school summer break, children from disadvantaged backgrounds make significant learning losses when compared to their more advantaged counterparts.

That’s why, as part of our role as a major London academies sponsor, we set up a new summer holidays scheme, reaching over 200 children and providing cooking classes, sports, education and cultural activities.

Schools are playing a leading role in social mobility, but many firms are too.

I was delighted to help launch, in partnership with the Social Mobility Commission and the Social Mobility Foundation, the world’s first Social Mobility Employer Index. It ranks the top UK employers who have taken the most action to improve social mobility in the workplace, incentivising firms to improve access to top quality jobs for candidates from all backgrounds. But it is clear to me that many firms can – and must – do more.

Indeed, one in five people employed in London don’t earn a wage they can live on and we all have a responsibility to consign this statistic to the history books.

Paying the living wage is an important part of that responsibility.

This year we took over the London Underground with a poster campaign encouraging more firms to pay staff at least the London Living Wage, reaching over five million people.

But we want all firms to recognise that paying the rate is not just the right thing to do, it’s good for their businesses too.

One year on from the launch of our social mobility strategy, we remain clear and determined to do as much as possible to ensure that people from all backgrounds have the opportunities to succeed.