By Esther McVey MP - 31st January 2012
Esther McVey MP seeks to promote social mobility, as she warns of the damage for those individuals who were never able, or allowed to fulfil their potential.
Social mobility is the advancement of the individual, irrespective of birth, gender, colour or class, and the need to address this is issue, was the underlying reason I entered politics.
In Britain today social mobility has never been so remote for so many people, with only 1 in 5 young people from the poorest families achieving 5 good GCSEs (including Maths and English) compared with 75 per cent from the richest families, only 25 per cent of boys from working class backgrounds get professional or managerial jobs and just 1 in 9 of those from low income backgrounds reach the top income quartile, whereas almost 50 per cent of those with parents in the top income quartile stay there.
Such a lack of social mobility is damaging for those individuals who were never able, or allowed to fulfil their potential, for their families, the local community and for the country as a whole. The personal waste is tragic and in the cold light of day, to a number crunching statistician, so is the economic waste too, which surely has to act as a wake-up call to all politicians of all parties to do something. In fact one study has estimated the economic benefits of creating a more highly skilled workforce at £140bn a year by 2050, an additional 4 per cent of GDP, and there is evidence that the demand for skilled workers is currently outstripping supply so there are jobs out there at the top that can't be filled.
I believe I have personal knowledge on this matter, coming from an area where I saw only too clearly those extra hurdles putting achievement a pace or 2 further away from people, as well as living amongst a few startling exceptions who managed to defy the odds and became 'socially mobile'. It was for that reason I went back to University to study corporate governance, wrote a paper on the character types and personality traits of people who succeed as well as interviewing over 500 school kids from tough areas to see what support and guidance they felt they needed to succeed.
So I have called for the debate on the promotion of social mobility to discuss in the round what the Coalition Government are doing such as: Early family intervention, free education to disadvantaged 2 year olds, introduction of University Technical Colleges, the Welfare programme and apprenticeships - because social mobility won't be achieved by a single initiative, it's about a whole host of interventions, providing small steps at various stages to climb up. There will need to be monitoring of progress and a media strategy to reach out to those people we are aiming to engage.
I am extremely optimistic about the initiatives the government are introducing, but I will only be happy when I see the positive results for the children I go and visit and speak with each week.
Esther McVeyhas been Conservative MP for Wirral West since 2010.