Are you a bright, working-class job applicant? Britain’s elite firms don’t want you

Employers would rather hire dumb posh people than smart working-class applicants

Top firms are excluding bright working-class applicants in favour of their privileged counterparts.

A study by Royal Holloway, University of London, on behalf of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission found elite firms are “systematically excluding bright working-class applicants” from their workforce .

Researchers interviewed staff from 13 top accountancy, law and financial services firms and found that candidates educated at state schools needed to get higher qualifications than their public school counterparts.

Candidates from fee-paying and selective schools made up 70% of graduate trainees at the firms looked at by the researchers, despite making up only a respective 7% and 4% of the population.

Recruiters chose their words carefully, the report found, asking for “talented” individuals. This allowed them to exclude the less well-travelled and those with regional accents.

The report said: “Elite firms define ‘talent’ according to a number of factors such as drive resilience, strong communication skills and above all confidence and ‘polish’, which participants in the research acknowledge can be mapped to middle-class status and socialisation.”

Alan Milburn, former Labour health secretary and chair of the commission said: “This research shows that young people with working-class backgrounds are being systematically locked out of top jobs. Elite firms seem to require applicants to pass a ‘poshness test’ to gain entry.

“Inevitably that ends up excluding youngsters who have the right sort of grades and abilities but whose parents do not have the right sort of bank balances.

“Thankfully some of our country’s leading firms are making a big commitment to recruit the brightest and best, regardless of background. They should be applauded. But for the rest, this is a wake up and smell the coffee moment.”

 

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