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There is still an increasing trend of educational inequality that affects young talent attempting to enter into the job market. A recent study from the Social Mobility Commission concluded that young people from more advantaged socio-economic backgrounds, including those who’ve attended private school, are more likely to be in top jobs.
What is the root cause of the increase in this trend and what can society do to prevent us from slipping back into an age of educational oppression?
Here are a few reasons as to why privately-educated pupils are getting the benefit of the doubt when going head to head with a state-schooled pupil:
- Untimely graduation – Few state school pupils who make it to college complete their studies on time. Pupils from low-income backgrounds may have access to grants for tuition, but they still have to make provision for living expenses. Many pupils cannot afford to study and work part-time and they end up being forced to seek full-time employment. Of course, there is the argument that working and learning at the same time can result in better education and stronger career prospects and future options, especially when working in jobs related to subjects studied, however, working too much can reduce completion rates for low-income and first-generation college pupils. A spokesperson for The National Union of Teachers said their report “gives a sombre warning to Government that unless investment and the correct interventions are in place, the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers will continue”.
- Career threshold – Most employers have strict recruitment procedures that ensure all aspects of a new job application is covered. When considering job applications from new candidates, they look at educational background including the school attended, academic attainment and the university attended. What they fail to realise is the fact that ticking these boxes is not an accurate prediction of the applicant’s strength. A more adept way to interview would be to focus on non-academic factors such as articulacy, assertiveness and other important soft skills. Employers that access a wider pool of diverse talent will provide real benefits for employees and the business alike.
- Not enough equivalent experience – When employers refer to equivalent experience in a job posting, they could be referring to experience as a substitute for not having the educational requirements or they could be referring to unpaid experience, such as volunteer work or an internship. Most state pupils are obviously not able to meet this requirement due to time or financial constraints that prevent them from taking on volunteer work or unpaid internships.
- Incorrect business destination and intent – Many employers have the incorrect focal point when it comes to success. Their considerations lean more towards prioritisation of tasks and general commerce when they should rather be paying more attention to what individuals can attribute to their overall financial growth. Employers should be looking to employ people who are going to complement the community that they are trying to build. The graduates who clearly articulate their interests, goals and aspirations are often overlooked because of their lower percentage performance in university or due to a lack of educational prestige.
- Restricted personal development – Young people from advantaged backgrounds are more likely to be extroverts and have substantially higher economic aspirations since private schools have the resources to work on personal development. On the other hand, state schools don’t focus on personal development enough, and their pupils are not able to develop self-confidence or high career aspirations.
- Budget deficits – With the entire world moving into a technology-based environment, it is becoming clear that tech-savvy thinking is one of the things that employers are looking for. Unfortunately, state schools are lacking behind in this area, especially when it comes to the use of tech devices in class. Pupils cannot afford their own devices and unless there is some sort of independent funding along the way, the schools are also not able to provide this for all pupils. This suppresses the learning potential of the pupils and they will not be able to develop the necessary skills to keep up with the changing working world.
- Educator challenges – State schools employ a disproportionate share of teachers, relative to the number of pupils they educate, with class sizes being far too high for one teacher to handle. This creates many challenges for individual educators such as learner performance and disciplinary problems. Learner performance is affected there is less time for the educator to give individual attention. Learners attention is also affected as classrooms tend to be more noisy and disruptive during lessons. Furthermore, the educator’s time management is affected as they do not have the time to attend to test papers and assignments with as much detail, so they often overlook vital areas where improvement may be needed.
Even though pupils are facing these challenges based on inequality and the lack of adaptability by many employers, they should not be discouraged. Young people entering the job market should assess what they can offer and why they can be an asset to their potential employer. They should include their best qualities in a personal cover letter when applying and focus on their unique credentials and skills.
GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. We run after-school and weekend programmes that help young people achieve their academic and career aspirations. Our programmes include tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-18. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of our programmes and courses.