Category Archives: social mobility

The Path to a Dream Career starts early

Case Study: Cate Sevilla – BitchBuzz Editor talks about achieving her dream..

There is some fantastic material coming through from a 1000 Heads to raise awareness of WYGU.

The site has been running through its paces for the last month with nearly 400 users. We have had amazingly positive and constructive feedback. So to prove we are listening we will upload a series of upgrades over the next week or so that demonstrates we have taken on board what you have said.

This will be done in preparation for an open Beta stage and a drive to raise awareness and encourage a full spectrum of users to WYGU through the 2nd half of September.

Why should you be interested in this latest phenomena ( I might be getting ahead of myself here, but we believe this is such a critically important area this should become a phenomena )

If you are 14 or over you will be starting to plan GCSE choices and, whether you realised this or not, you, as a young student or your sons or daughters are already making choices that will effect their careers.

By the time you reach 16 you are looking at work, training, or A’levels and now every choice you make has an impact. If you enter the work place we want you to have understood your choices and helped you find something that matches your interest or something you can be passionate about.

If you have done your A’levels and are moving onto University, a poorly informed or considered  choice here could have a massive impact on the rest of your life. With such high youth unemployment, with or without degrees, genric course choices need to be considered in the context of what implications or restrictions this may impose.

You have to make yourself competitive and give yourself the best chance of choosing and obtaining your career goals , as the online marketing guru Seth Godin so aptly puts it without the right passion and commitments we are in danger of becoming ‘Wandering generalities instead of a meaningful specifics’

As you live your full social and academic lives at University understand that with such a competitive marketplace for Graduates, you will need to have done your homework, made connections, tried to get work experience, ideally relevant to you careers.

It is no surprise that over 8% of you will drop out in your first year, in debt, and having become disillusioned with your subject/College or potential career choices.

Many of you will be starting on your career path, will want to know how to progress, reaching out to mentors or simply wanting to get the heck out of the misery of a job you hate, having understood as little about it as you did your course choices.

There are others of you who will be established in careers who want to branch out , start on your own or even make a complete career change.

Whichever stage you are at you need help, information and connections to people who can guide you through those choices and tools and information to help you find your passions and interests and how they translate into a meaningful career.

Just as importantly if you are a parent, or guardian, or you have just completed a course, or started work or have been in your career, or company for many years and are happy as Larry ( who is Larry anyway ) then it is so important you ‘give something back.’ Help others make the right choices, or avoid mistakes, or simply learn from your lessons without the need for the scars and abrasions. After all you have been there and have the ‘T shirt’ so now impart some of those pearls of wisdom that in a few minutes a week could change the lives, for the better, for an awful lot of people.

Like all things in life, you should ask the expert or, at the very least, a person who knows ‘what they are talking about’. You would not ask a mechanic to pull your teeth or a Doctor to repair your leaking pipes ( well perhaps) or a policeman to design you a new wardrobe. So why do we expect to get meaningful information and advice about our suitability for roles from people who have  not done a course, attended a college or experienced the job role you are interested in. This is something we at WYGU have understood and by using the principles of social networking  have spent the last 18 months building a platform that is all about preparing you and supporting you in those difficult and critical choices.  This is something you simply can no longer leave to chance if you have any hope of finding a career that you will enjoy, thrive in and that will ultimately make you happy.

A special thanks to Cate Sevilla at BitchBuzz and all the other previous contributers; Sherin Malik at Hi Fashion and an aspiring Politician; Holly Hunt at YummyMummysBeautyBlog and Simon Majumdar at SimonMajumdar.com. These are all making a real contribution, so can you

So if this message applies, resonates, intrigues or even slightly tweaks your interest take a look at wygu.com and get involved with a a truly meaningful cause and a worthwhile social platform that will hopefully have a positive impact on the lives of millions of people, of all ages, around the globe.

The Challenges of Social Mobility

Gordon Brown last week announced that a key cause he would champion in the next election was Social Mobility.  At the same time David Cameron has prodded at the performance of schools in leafy suburbs aka middle class suburbia, suggesting that aspirational mediocrity is not acceptable.  Anne McElvoy has penned an excellent synopisis of the various party positions on this in last nights  Evening Standard.

In HM Government’s recent report “Unleashing Aspirations” Pat McFadden, the Minister of State for Business, Innovation and Skills points out that 75% of judges, 70% of Finance Directors, 45% of top civil servants and, even more surprisingly, 32% of MPs were independently schooled yet only 7% of our children go to a private school.

We can tell that an election is rapidly approaching because for this now to be a battle front when the current government have had 14 years to solve the problem can make one feel a little cynical. I personally understand the challenges of social mobility having been been born and brought up in a small mining village in South Wales, near Merthyr Tydfil, where both of my great grandfathers were down the coal mines from 12 years of age until 65 and where I was the first offspring of an exceedingly large extended family to attend university.  I have been fortunate to have achieved what could be considered high levels of attainment in my career but even today, as I have attended meetings in board rooms of blue-chip companies, I still ask myself “what’s a boy from the Valleys doing here?”

You come to realise that people in the room judge you on merit and give you even greater respect when they understand your background and the realisation that you are there without any favours, help or connections. So in my personal experiences you are dealt with honorably even though you are clearly not part of the “club”- perhaps I have been fortunate as many others I know feel that not being part of the mysterious “club” ( like a private school version of the Masons) locks doors and denies access to all but the “private members”.

There is another challenge to social mobility which is not the weight of expectation, but the drag and weightier expectation of failure from the community who believe that you should never think or behave above your station.

What I have come to realise is that in our informed society it remains, more than ever, not what you know but who you know.  And whilst I respect the Governments aspirations to open up those networks by introducing mentoring and encouraging people to break through the glass ceilinged confines inhabited by those from less fortunate backgrounds, I believe the mechanisms and approaches they will use will at best help the few and not the many.  Feeling vindicated in lifting the ceiling a little for those few instead of looking at the broader challenge of grooming the best and most deserving candidates for future Leadership, Professional and Entrepeneurial roles, regardless of their backgrounds.

Equally, I understand David Cameron’s comments about the lack of high achievement in middle England, especially when we consider that we are now in a global economy and our youngsters will be competing with people who have not taken education for granted and are striving relentlessly to better themselves.

So perhaps, therefore, the focus should include a combination of the two. Then combined with dealing with another critical area we need to resolve which is the balance of supply and demand between education and industry and commerce.  With nearly 1 million young people unemployed under the age of 24 in the UK, we still continue to have mass immigration for senior jobs in the UK – not just, as Governments would suggest, for manual workers.  So this begs the question, is this because our people are not of a high enough calibre or that the qualifications they have, as a supply of skilled or qualified resource, are not in the right disciplines to match the demand in the marketplace.

The idea that ill-informed, poorly advised youngsters choose subjects for generic further education courses, without understanding the consequences and limitations of those choices in a highly competitive market is shameful.  This, more than anything, needs to be addressed if we are going to achieve the right balance and success and support for the next generation of school and college leavers.

We have lost one generation, which was unforgivable of us, but to lose another would be criminally negligent. The resolution for this does  not rest with Government and Industry alone it is all of our personal and collective social responsibilities.

Why wygu?

So I have been convinced to start a blog! This will be a place for my thoughts around mentoring, social mobility and why so many people are in accidental careers  – and what we can do to help this. People say that perception is reality, I’ve come to the conclusion that reality is no longer as important as perceptions as these are the things that create artificial barriers that limit our ambitions and achievements. These perceptions are created within the communities we grow up in and become the greatest contributor to what the Government now term social mobility. I love quotes and to kick off my new found pastime of blogging I must include one of my favorites

“A persons mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its former dimensions”

The challenge of course with this is finding or opening peoples minds to be receptive to new ideas and to remove the shackles of nurture’s perceptions that often form beliefs that are close to impossible to change. These beliefs are illustrated in simple every day occurrences where children follow the same team’s as their father’s and vote in the same way as their parents – reverse engineering our validations to justify what has been subtle or even subliminal conditioning. Therefore to change peoples perceptions that limit their ambitions or achievements we have to provide a direct support mechanism through education and mentoring that will open and stretch their minds to new ideas and opportunities.

These are the areas I will be exploring in my blog over the coming months.