Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Degree dominated journalism must do more to widen intake, says social mobility adviser Milburn

Professions such as  journalism must do more to widen their intake, the deputy prime minister's social mobility adviser Alan Milburn (top) will say in a report out today. ( See Update below)

According to the BBC, Milburn's report will say journalism has increasingly become a "degree-only profession", and, on the whole, does "not seem to take the issue of fair access seriously".

Milburn has called for a "bigger drive" to open careers to young people from poorer backgrounds.

In the report Milburn says internship schemes are a "lottery" and no profession has "cracked" widening recruitment.

Milburn told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "There's a series of barriers that, maybe inadvertently, the professions put in the way of those with ability and aptitude from a variety of backgrounds getting even the first foot career on the ladder into the professions.

"It's partially about how they provide work experience opportunities, internships, their recruitment processes, where they recruit from."

In 2009, Milburn told the Today programme there was a time when someone could start as a messenger boy and end up as a Fleet Street journalist.

Update: Milburn's report says journalism is the most "socially exclusive" industry, with efforts to widen access "fragmented" and lacking "real vigour."

It also says: "Some 98% of entrants to journalism already have a degree or postgraduate qualification. Less than 10% of those entering the journalism profession have worked their way up through non-graduate, vocational, working-class backgrounds."

The report adds: "For some professions, such as journalism, students are now highly unlikely to be able to progress into the profession without a minimum amount of relevant work experience."

It concludes: "Access to a professional career has become more and more inflexible over time. Graduate-only entry has become a mindset across the professions, and that has profound implications for social mobility.

"During the UK’s first great wave of social mobility, the openness of the professions to people of talent coming into professional employment through various routes created new opportunities for a whole generation of young people from middle and low-income backgrounds."

"Today, many of those routes have been closed off. We believe it is time to open them up again. The professions will not flourish unless they extend – not limit – the rungs on the professional career ladder. Some are already doing so. Others need to follow their lead."
  • The government has promised to set up a social mobility and child poverty commission. Milburn recommends that it should report annually on "what, if any, progress the professions are making".
  • The BBC has a link to the report here .

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