The report quotes some depressing statistics about social mobility in the UK.
Only one in five young people from the poorest families achieve five good GCSEs, including English and maths, compared with three quarters from the richest families.
25% of children from poor backgrounds fail to meet the expected attainment level at the end of primary school, compared to 3% from affluent backgrounds.
Almost one in five children receive free school meals, yet this group accounts for fewer than one in a hundred Oxbridge students.
Only a quarter of boys from working-class backgrounds get middle-class (professional or managerial) jobs.
Just one in nine of those with parents from low income backgrounds reach the top income quartile, whereas almost half of those with parents in the top income quartile stay there.
Only 7% of the population attend independent schools, but the privately educated account for more than half of the top level of most professions, including 70% of high court judges, 54% of top journalists and 54% of chief executive officers of FTSE 100 companies.
The influence of parental income on the income of children in Britain is among the strongest in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. Parental income has over one and a half times the impact on male incomes in Britain compared with Canada, Germany and Sweden.
Bill Law is a bit of a guru when it comes to careers theory — he developed the DOTS framework which is used frequently in careers education. He even has his own website www.hihohiho.com and twitter following. He constantly argues for a more radical, activist perspective on careers guidance and education, embracing complexity and reforming careers to also consider life-role related learning. More recently he’s done some work on storyboarding as David has mentioned in his earlier post.
But going back to the classics — in 1981, Law introduced his Community Interaction Theory. He suggested that some of the most influential factors in career choice relate to events which occur in the context of ‘community interaction’ between the individual and the social groups of which she or he is a member. If theories such as Circumscription and Compromise talk about the impact of society pressures on our decision making process, Community Interaction focuses on some of the mechanisms by which this takes place.
Objectively, Martin appeared to have a successful career in television. However, he admitted to being very disappointed with his life. He had started out working on serious social documentaries but had moved into reality television because there were more opportunities available. He was regretting the move because he felt that he had sold out on his principles and was feeling dissatisfied despite his success. Read the rest of this entry »
Linda Gottfredson - is she circumscribed or compromised? I don't think so.
In 1981, Linda Gottfredson first put forward the theory of Circumscription and Compromise. It sits on the border between matching theories and developmental theories of career choice because it looks at how people’s career matching processes develop over time. It also explores the interaction of sociological factors and psychological factors that determine career decisions.
I have just enjoyed reading Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Outliers. It is a book about success — extraordinary success — and what is behind it. As with Gladwell’s other books, Outliers contains a treasure trove of surprising facts that make you stop in your tracks. Why are most successful ice hockey players in Canada born in January, February or March? Why did many of the most successful corporate lawyers in New York have almost identical biographies? Why were commercial planes flown by Korean pilots more likely to have accidents than those flown by Americans?
Gladwell takes on the pervasive myth that extraordinary success is purely the result of extraordinary talent in individuals. He examines the social, cultural, racial and systemic factors that hide behind the success stories. Read the rest of this entry »
Helpless dog (who has not been electrocuted - just in case you were worrying)
In 1967 Martin Seligman conducted some slightly disturbing experiments on dogs. The dogs were exposed to electric shocks that they could not escape because of restraints. Eventually they would give up trying to do anything about their suffering. This lack of response continued even when the restraints were removed and it was possible for them to avoid the pain. The dogs had come to believe that they could do nothing about the shocks, so they didn’t try.
Based on this, and further experiments on animals and humans, Seligman formulated the theory of learned helplessness. In essence, it says that when someone is exposed to an experience in which they feel they have no control or ability to change things, this can lead to an assumption of helplessness which persists even if it subsequently becomes possible to effect a transformation.
Throughout the recession there has been talk about how to help the ‘lost generation‘. However, if learned helplessness is real, then it will require more than just providing opportunities. The recession may have affected the perceptions and attitudes of a generation of job-seekers. Read the rest of this entry »
Unleashing Aspirations, the final report from the governmental Panel on Fair Access to the Professions has been released. The report looks at social mobility in the UK and specifically entry into society’s top jobs and professions, such as lawyers, civil servants, doctors, bankers, journalists and university vice chancellors.
Not surprisingly, the report shows that most professions have become increasingly exclusive, with increasing proportions of members coming from families with above average incomes. It criticises the professions for recruitment practices that directly and indirectly discriminate against students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Plus ça change…!
In 1968 Ken Roberts proposed his Theory of Occupational Allocation (or Opportunity Structure theory as it became known). After researching into the jobs of school leavers he proposed that individual choice had less of an impact on career destination than the social proximity of the options available based on gender, ethnicity and social class.
More recent theoretical concepts along similar lines have included habitus and social capital.