“Our new PwC Assurance Centre is one of our key priorities in delivering a best in class proposition as one of the world’s leading professional services firms. Not only will it offer our people the opportunity to work more flexibly and help reduce the travel required, they will also gain great experience working with a breadth of nationally based clients from SMEs to large corporations. Bradford is one of the largest cities in the UK, and the youngest city, offering a large and talented workforce that has so much to offer not just Northern Powerhouse growth but the UK’s economic growth too. Helping to support inclusive growth by investing in Bradford drives right to the heart of our PwC Purpose and Social Mobility agenda.”

Will Richardson, PwC’s Leeds Office Senior Partner

Why should you care about social mobility as an employer?

•Companies that widen their talent pool can increase their competitive advantage – 43% of businesses with more diverse workforces have higher profits.

•Inclusive teams make better business decisions 87% of the time. And they make decisions twice as fast, delivering 60% better results.

•Employees from lower socio-economic backgrounds on average outperform their more advantaged peers.

•Individuals who start their careers via an apprentice scheme are likely to stay longer, reducing recruitment costs.

•Leading companies such as Channel 4, KPMG and Compass are optimising their workforce for socio-economic diversity. As this becomes the norm, employees may give preference to companies that champion socio-economic diversity as a matter of principle as it reflects a forward-thinking, inclusive ethos. (Social Mobility Commission)

Forward looking companies across industries are not just focusing their efforts of increasing diversity through gender and ethnicity but also looking at how to increase socio-economic diversity

The Social Mobility Commission https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/social-mobility-commission have produced a Toolkit https://www.assets.publishing.service.gov.uk for employers looking to increase their socio-economic diversity and those wanting to optimise their approach.  In their toolkit they refer to socio economic background as a key factor in diversity and social mobility.  This toolkit offers practical help for those employers embracing the new frontier in their diversity and inclusion agenda because no ones background should determine their future.

Why working with employers and businesses matters to improving social mobility

We know that educational attainment alone is not enough to improve social mobility. If young people do not have the right information or support to make effective choices, we cannot expect to see improvements in access to rewarding careers or changes in social mobility.

In our conversations (prior to us publishing our plan in 2018 with school leaders, teachers, employers and professionals, the same concern has been repeated: Bradford has a culture of low expectations, which stops its young people aiming high and denies them the support to go further. We know that confidence, self-awareness and responsibility in relation to personal and social development are vital to raising aspirations and helping young people and their families make the best life choices. Helping young people develop these skills must therefore be part of our plan.

What the experts say

“COVID-19 has shone a light on certain sectors such as health and social care, engineering and

technology, influencing public opinion towards how essential vocational routes are in developing

future talent. If employers are to recover and thrive going forward, new skills and ways of working

will be crucial. This provides an important opportunity for development through apprenticeships.”

(Doherty & Cullinane, 2020, p. 7)

“COVID-19 has impacted everyone, but it is clear that those from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds are most at risk of being left behind in terms of education and work opportunities. So this crisis also presents an opportunity for employers to lead the pack in terms of social mobility, ensuring a more diverse, productive and happy workforce going forward” (Social Mobility Commission, April 2021).

Local opportunities you can get involved with now

The pandemic has shone a light on gaps in attainment, job prospects and life chances of our young people and we are working to ensure our children and young people are at the absolute heart of our recovery and becoming a fair and inclusive District. We will support children who have struggled during the pandemic to get the support they need.

We know we face many challenges. Realising the potential of our young and diverse population depends on improving outcomes across a range of areas particularly education and skills which is why we need to make sure we strive for deeper, stronger partnerships with employers and businesses who are willing to help.

We have spent the last 5 months liaising with businesses, school intervention providers, local and regional councils and the VCS sector in Bradford. This has given us an understanding of the needs of local people, the business links into the community and the local landscape which underpins our view of where it would be best to focus business energy to have most impact.

Business in the Community https://www.bitc.org.uk/ have a wealth of expertise in connecting businesses and are helping Bradford to ‘build back better’. They have engaged in significant intelligence gathering, identifying the most deprived wards using deprivation and demographic data and guidance from Bradford council.  In addition to this, they have sought to understand the business energy in the region, the political landscape, the initiatives that are live in the area and any potential investment streams that will be beneficial to a ward.   They have identified Keighley as a distinct place of the Bradford District to focus their convening efforts to make sure schools and employers are better connected. Their intention is to bring business energy to address issues which could include addressing mentoring/coaching, life skills, employability skills and training.

If you are a local business based in Keighley or could support this work please get in touch with Farida.Zaman@bitc.org.uk

If you are an employer or business who can offer support in our efforts to improve better outcomes for the children and young people of Bradford and which to work with us and our stakeholders to improve social mobility then please get in touch with us via: opportunityareas.bradford@education.gov.uk