Nick Clegg, former Dragon’s Den star James Caan and busloads of young people will descend on City law firms Slaughter and May and CMS Cameron McKenna today as part of the deputy prime minister’s campaign to increase opportunities for those from less privileged backgrounds.
The Opening Doors campaign is the latest stage of Mr Clegg’s Business Compact on social mobility, whose goal is to ensure that all young people have fair and open access to employment opportunities.
Some 120 young people will board double-decker buses at the Guildhall in London before going on a tour the two law firms, as well as Barclays, Channel 4, Random House, O2, Fujitsu, PWC and Siemens.
Mr Clegg’s office has also released YouGov research commissioned by Allen & Overy, CMS Cameron McKenna and Clifford Chance that shows nearly one in 10 young people aged 16-25 are most interested in pursuing a career in legal or financial services.
However, it suggested that young people in lower social grades (C2DE) are several rungs behind on the career ladder. Over a third of young people aged 16 to 25 from higher social grades (ABC1) who indicated which industry they would like to work in, already have a job in their chosen industry (33%), compared to just 5% of young people in lower social grades.
The research also found that young people from higher social grades have greater access to work opportunities.
More encouragingly, those who have set their sights on a particular sector are optimistic about their career goals, with 69% believing they are likely or very likely to get the job they want. Just one in seven think that people with the same background as them do not tend to get a job in their chosen industry.
Mr Clegg said: “We have a big problem in this country. Every year employers are closing their doors to talented young people. This is a terrible waste of talent and potential that could be otherwise boosting our economy and driving growth in our businesses.
“In good times this would be tragic. In tough economic times, it is unforgivable. Today I’m on a mission to ask companies, large and small, to open their doors to the incredible talent out there and sign up to our campaign.”
More than 150 organisations, including 17 law firms or legal bodies – such as the Legal Services Board and Bar Council – have already signed up to the Business Compact. This commits them to working with local schools and communities to raise aspirations, ensuring fair and formal access to work opportunities with financial assistance and recruiting openly and fairly. Some 57% have increased contact with disadvantaged school since joining the campaign.