Policy statement

Social Mobility and the Engineering Profession

In this policy statement we look at how we can ensure that engineering continues to present opportunities for talented people from all backgrounds and social classes.

All major political parties subscribe to social mobility and its value to the UK. But translating lofty ideals into meaningful policies appears a little more challenging, with recent trends indicating a slowing of upward movement through the ranks.

Research carried out for The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission shows that elite UK companies are drawing from a small pool of middle-class graduates. The study concludes that accountancy, law and financial services firms are “systematically excluding bright working-class applicants” from their workforce.

Historically, engineering has always presented opportunities for talented people from all backgrounds and social classes. How can we ensure this continues, and how can government, schools and employers safeguard future access to the profession?

Key recommendations

  1. The government should make schools and colleges fully accountable for the provision of structured careers advice through the compulsory publication of student destinations.
  2. The government should undertake a review of the options for changing the structure of post-16 education, specifically exploring the consequences of introducing a Baccalaureate-style approach on both academic and vocational routes, especially for economically vital sectors such as engineering.
  3. The government should compel its careers and enterprise company to source, promote and record industry placements for teachers alongside meaningful work experience for pupils.
  4. The engineering community should unite in highlighting to school senior leaders and governors, the financial and personal benefit of pursuing engineering training and study, to pupils of all types and from all backgrounds.


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