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|Thought Leadership | Climbing the career ladder, whichever rung you start on | Part 1 of 2 |

A highly skilled workforce is vital to a country’s ability to work its way out of recession. HR professionals are focused on nurturing talent and creating an environment in which everyone can succeed. A lack of social mobility, however, is believed by many to be hampering millions of people’s ability to achieve their full potential in the workplace.

Defined as the degree of change someone can make to their social status, social mobility is vital to unlocking talent in every sector of society.  Although the main driver may be the formal education system, many organizations see taking a proactive stance towards social mobility as part of their corporate social responsibility ethos. They take the view that doing something that directly impacts individuals is of more value than, for example, giving staff time off to help with charities.  The payback, they believe, is far greater than the investment they put in.

With activities ranging from running debating competitions in schools in deprived areas to offering final year students from lower socio-economic groups work experience, the aim is to encourage aspiration. By giving these young people access to a world they may have thought closed to them, the hope is that it will nurture a belief that they can make a success of their lives, encouraging them to invest in their own education and skills, and ultimately become skilled members of the workforce.

Apprenticeships are another popular route for many organizations wishing to engage young people from less privileged backgrounds. Offering a path to success that is not based on the classroom, apprenticeships provide an alternative way to obtain new skills and valuable qualifications, while letting young people earn while they learn.

In addition, many organizations are creating training and development programmes that bring together academic and business qualifications. For these schemes to impact social mobility however, they must extend to everyone in the business, so that all employees, whatever their background or prior qualifications, believe they can get on the skills development ladder.

Next time: Steps of encouragement

Based on a Sage UK article placed in the UK’s HR Vision magazine