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Careers Guide

The Class of 2020 and Social Mobility - Why It’s so Important Right Now

The class of 2020 are our future workforce. They will be the people who will have to rebuild our economy over the coming years.

800,000 school leavers and graduates are about to join our labour market, and a report for the RI foundation concludes that it’s these people who are more likely to face long-term damage to career and pay prospects, even after the storm from Covid-19 has passed.

Class of 2020

The current economic situation isn’t the easiest news to digest, particularly in the context of the thousands of hopeful young people who will be entering a very different kind of job market this summer.

Worse still, there are those young people who have spent their spring and possibly summer at home, slowly disengaging from the education system with little encouragement from parents, in overcrowded housing and who face the stark reality of securing a set of very poor predicted grades.

It is precisely these groups of students who need our help right now. In response to this, we’ve put together a list of current challenges facing early careers professionals and why we think the work you do will become even more important throughout the coming months. 

#1 Predicted grades

It’s easy to assume that Ofqual’s decision to award this summer’s GCSE and A Levels on a predicted basis could lead to many students cheering at the thought of their results being handed to them without merit. And whilst this will be the case for some, many of those from lower socio-economic backgrounds tend to perform significantly better in their final exams than their predicted grades. 

#2 Technology

Online schooling, resources and work experience depend on students having access to a reliable internet connection, and there’s widely documented concerns around many young people struggling with cheap Wi-Fi and inappropriate digital tools. The Guardian reports that one fifth of students lack the technology needed for online learning and research shows that remote studying, whilst improving access for most, does present challenges for lesser-prepared students who consistently perform worse online. 

#3 Quiet Space

Younger siblings, shared bedrooms, no desks. Many households lack the fundamental basics for a productive study space and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds are statistically dealt the shorter straw. This, combined with a lack of encouragement from teacher-facing contact, can create a real struggle to stay motivated and runs the risk of exacerbating long standing inequalities.  

So, let’s keep this on the agenda. 

It’s sadly always been the case that young people do not compete on an equal playing field, but Covid-19 will present new unchartered challenges for all education professionals. We simply cannot underestimate the power of careers support right now. By taking social mobility into account when designing your outreach plans, you can take small actions to ensure that remote does not result in unequal for the class of 2020.

Some ideas from us: 

  • Keep your communications and outreach as open as possible. Make your hiring plans and grade requirements really clear, and keep young people involved in the conversations as much as possible.

  • Re-evaluate your tech regularly. Consider online and offline projects. Are you doing all you can for disadvantaged groups?

  • Look into mentoring and opening your teams’ professional networks – a lot of people have resource available right now.

  • Get in touch! The role of intermediaries between schools and companies are really valuable in reaching disadvantaged learner groups and talent pools.  

Uptree would like to thank all of our partners for their work on inclusion and social mobility.

We are a professional careers network, partnered with over 250 schools nationwide with an average of 30% of all our students on free school meals (this is roughly triple the national average). This number is set to grow, and supporting students with employability skills, apprenticeships and careers guidance is more important now than ever. If you would like work with us, please get in touch via