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Leading UK businesses and business groups today backed a commitment to help improve social mobility for young people in the Government’s 12 Opportunity Areas.

Under plans announced today, more than 40 national and local ‘cornerstone’ employers will work with The Careers & Enterprise Company to make a collective commitment to work with more than 260 secondary schools and colleges in the Opportunity Areas to help inspire and prepare their pupils for the fast-changing world of work. Employers include Adecco, Butlins, KPMG, Michelin, Mantra Media, NatWest, PwC and Rolls Royce.

The announcement comes as Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening highlighted the need for businesses to support social mobility in her speech at the Sutton Trust this morning.

All 40+ businesses and business bodies have committed to work together, with the support of a £2m government-backed fund, to guarantee that in each of the Opportunity Areas:

  • All pupils aged 11-18 will have access to at least four inspiring ‘encounters’ with the world of work. This follows research by the Education and Employers Taskforce which shows that young people who have 4 or more workplace encounters while at school are 86% less likely to be NEET and on average will go on to earn 18% more than their peers who did not.
  • All 260+ secondary schools and colleges will have access to a local senior business volunteer (Enterprise Adviser) who will work with headteachers and college principals to unlock local business relationships and advise on their careers programme.

The business commitment is backed by leading business representative bodies, such as the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), who will work with The Careers & Enterprise Company to encourage their business members to offer more young people opportunities to engage employers across a wide spectrum of business sectors through activities such as mentoring, work experience, mock interviews and career talks.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the Institute of Directors (IOD), the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), local Chambers of Commerce and Local Enterprise Partnerships are also playing a key role in working with The Careers & Enterprise Company to support young people in the Opportunity Areas.

Can your business help?

The Opportunity Areas are Blackpool, Bradford, Derby, Doncaster, Fenland & East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich, Norwich, Oldham, Scarborough, Stoke on Trent and West Somerset.

If you can offer support as a business in any of these areas, register your interest and The Careers & Enterprise Company will be in touch.

Register your interest


Education Secretary Justine Greening said:

"As well as making sure young people get a first-class education, we need to give them workplace experience early on if we are to help set them up for careers success in the future. Employers, large and small, have a criticial role to play in this and I am delighted that so many will be working with The Careers & Enterprise Company to create opportunities for young people across the country.

"As well as broadening the horizons of young people and nurturing their ambitions, these initiatives make good business sense, delivering the skills employers need and ultimately boosting the economy."

Melanie Richards, KPMG, Vice Chair said:

“As one of the UK’s leading social mobility employers, addressing the geography of disadvantage is a key priority for KPMG. We are delighted to be working with the Careers and Enterprise Company on this important agenda across the UK and to be a ‘cornerstone employer’ in Norwich and Fenland & East Cambridgeshire. “It is crucial that we open up access to high-quality employment opportunities across the country. Government, business and the third sector must work together to strengthen the link between education and employment, to ensure that every young person can fulfil their potential.”

Alex Fleming, President of General Staffing, Adecco said:

“Social mobility is a fundamental issue for society as a whole and addressing it is key to ensuring our businesses have a diverse and effective workforce in the future. This is important both for us as a large national employer and for our clients who are seeking new talent. We are committed to working with the Careers & Enterprise Company and businesses across the country to make a sustainable difference in the Opportunity Areas to support all young people, irrespective of background, to fulfil their potential.”

Gaenor Bagley, Head of Corporate Purpose, PwC, said:

“It is clear that the challenges in the Opportunity Areas cannot be solved by one organisation alone. We see this as a rare opportunity to collaborate with all businesses and key local stakeholders in Bradford to develop and support practical solutions to raise social mobility, including raising business skills and awareness, improving employability prospects and helping young people understand what businesses are looking for. We are passionate about working with our local communities to make a deep impact that will last for generations.”

Neil Carberry, Managing Director for People and Infrastructure, CBI said:

“There has never been a more important time to ensure the success of the UK’s education and skills system - it’s the best growth strategy a country can have. Businesses are committed to supporting schools to help bring lessons to life and open-up opportunities beyond the school gates. “While many businesses across the UK are already doing great work with young people in schools and colleges, firms will welcome this opportunity to help even more young people succeed, both academically and in terms of the attitudes and behaviours they need in later life.”

Richard Spencer, Principal, Ely College, Cambridgeshire said:

“The Careers and Enterprise Company’s Enterprise Adviser Network plays an important role in bringing expertise from the world of business into the school so our pupils can meet with and learn from the local businesses that they could soon be looking to join, and I welcome the additional support that the Opportunity Area will bring to ensure that all young people in the area experience even more high quality encounters with business. By helping students to start planning now for their future career or for further and higher education, we give them a much better chance of continuing to flourish when they move on.”

Claudia Harris, Chief Executive, The Careers & Enterprise Company said:

“40 of our economy’s leading businesses have stepped forward to ensure we can increase young peoples’ exposure to the world of work following clear evidence that this improves employment outcomes. “The scale of collaboration between businesses announced today will make a much-needed dent in social immobility in key areas and we are proud to be co-ordinating these efforts.”


More information

Download: Press release and notes to editors [PDF]
Get your business involved in our Opportunity Areas work