It’s been a big week on the graduate prospects news front. On the downside, we’ve seen that unemployment has hit record highs of 2.38m (7.2%) – this in the wake of a study claiming that one in four graduate vacancies have completely disappeared (where did they go?). More encouragingly, there have been reports appearing on both public and private initiatives to address these concerns. Not least of these was WEXO’s debut on BBC Television News above! But this was closely followed by Alan Milburn announcing the long awaited Social Mobility Report and the launch of Boris Johnson’s new website Helping Graduates into Work – both on Tuesday – uncanny coincidence?!
Some time ago, WEXO actually went to see the ‘Panel for Fair Access to the Professions’ which compiled the social mobility report at Cabinet Office. They never thanked us for our time and haven’t credited us in the publication. We do realise though that they’ve been busy. The report is reasonably impartial in its observations and bold in its recommendations. But the very term ‘social mobility’ is starting to sound both pretentious and utopian and the ultimate blame for the report’s existence is probably the failure of Labour educational reform (even in a boom economy) to remove the seeds of immobility that start in the playground. If this is going to be any more than a footnote to the Labour party’s last stand then it’s the doors of access that need to be opened (and not just talked about). This is exactly what we are trying to do. In promoting WEXO as ‘it’s not who you know, but who you are’ we are trying to prove that some opportunities might be better filled with big brains (what you know) but many others are better populated with bolder thinking or broader approaches.
Bold and broad are both words that could be used to describe Boris. And the new London-focused initiative (in partnership with our friends The Careers Group) is proactive in highlighting the benefits of internships. The Mayor has stated that he will promote good practice and support it with public sector investment. We like the sound of this and have written to Boris accordingly (apparently he responds within 20 days). The website is largely a pooling of information and ideas to help graduates work out what exactly they want to do and enticingly what exactly they might get paid given a certain degree. Check it out: www.london.gov.uk/graduates