Education secretary sets out his vision for social mobility

The education secretary Damian Hinds has set out his vision for social mobility, adding it is a cause ‘very close’ to his heart.

Speaking at the Resolution Foundation in London, Mr Hinds said while social mobility is fundamental for a ‘strong, highly-skilled, productive economy’, it is also a ‘complex issue to crack’.

‘You won’t crack social mobility by only focussing on exam results,’ said the education secretary.

‘So I’m delighted that Dame Martina [Milburn] and the Social Mobility Commission will be undertaking a major piece of research work on how extracurricular activities, networks and the development of so-called soft skills can influence social mobility, looking at the gaps between disadvantaged young people and their peers – and how these vary by factors, such as region, ethnicity, gender, special educational needs, as well as some of the solutions for tackling this,’ announced Mr Hinds.

‘I’m also clear that this is a challenge for the long haul and not one just for the minister or, indeed, government of the day.

‘And that’s why I’m commissioning a new big data project that will follow in the footsteps of the American economist Raj Chetty’s landmark work mapping out social mobility in the United States, which showed how your chances of beating the odds and improving your lot were hugely affected by where you happened to live,’ added Mr Hinds.

‘Our project will look at young people today, from across the country, and where they end up over the next five or six years. And I hope by then we will have gathered a huge wealth of information that will benefit researchers and policy makers for decades to come.’

Last month, Mr Hinds confirmed the appointment of Dame Martina Milburn as chair of the Social Mobility Commission, following an endorsement of her appointment by the education select committee.

‘Our economy is changing fast and while the rapid technological change we’re seeing presents so many opportunities for Britain we can also expect labour market upheaval,’ added Mr Hinds.

‘We need a plan for people and places that could otherwise be left behind.

‘We need a country that is fit for a high-tech future.’And we need a country that works for everyone – because, as I said at the start, what is progress for our society, if we’re not doing more for the people who start out with the biggest disadvantages? A strong society, a strong economy, does not leave people behind.’

Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart


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