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24 January 2017

Making the Leap: Enabling Social Mobility in the UK to tell its Story

Written by: Michael Zdanowski, Associate Director at Edelman


Social Mobility – one of the most pressing issues in society today

It may be surprising to few but the UK has a “deep social mobility problem” according to the Social Mobility Commission, which has identified four fundamental barriers that hold back the progress of low and middle-income families in England. These barriers include an unfair education system, a two-tier labour market, an imbalanced economy and an unaffordable housing market.

A report published last year found that graduates from richer families earn significantly more 10 years after leaving university than poorer students who study for the same degree at the same institution.

Making the Leap

It was against this background that Ivan Otero Chio and I decided to spend a day with the Social Mobility charity, Making the Leap, in Kensal Green, North West London.

Incredibly, Making the Leap has helped around 40,000 young people (“Associates”) from disadvantaged backgrounds over the past 23 years raising their aspirations and increasing their opportunities in the jobs market by honing their soft skills such as presentation and teamwork training, as well as by hosting CV-writing workshops and sound careers advice.

Ivan and I spent the day with Making the Leap as part of Edelman’s Global Citizenship Initiative which allows company staff to spend a day a year working with the communities in which we operate.

We wanted to see how the charity actively works to improve the prospects of the Associates and to see the practical training that enables them to compete more effectively in the jobs market.

The Associates, typically aged between 18-25 years, come from poorer backgrounds and are therefore less likely to compete as well in the jobs market as their contemporaries from wealthier backgrounds.

What we learnt

Ivan and I learnt at first-hand about Making the Leap’s positive impact by spending an hour talking to a group of Associates; learning about the challenges they encounter trying to get on the jobs market and soft skills’ training that improves their opportunities.

The Associates impressed on us their determination to succeed in a competitive jobs market and how the training has given them greater confidence in approaching graduate schemes and doing job interviews.

For our part, Ivan and I talked about our own career paths to date discussing, among other things, the kind of internships we would recommend doing, the kind of skills that top companies look for in people and the work we do at Edelman.

The Social Mobility Awards

The main focus of our day was working with the founder of Making the Leap, Tunde Banjoko, and his team, to see how communications marketing could launch the inaugural Social Mobility Awards, which will take place this October in London.

The aim of the Awards is to celebrate and recognise businesses and organisations that have gone to great efforts to advance social mobility in the country. Award categories include “Mentor of the Year Award” and “Recruitment of the Year Award”.

Significantly, it is the first such awards in social mobility in the UK.

Through the day, we worked with Tunde and his team to highlight the key communications challenges of the Awards and looked at the messages that would resonate with UK businesses to encourage them to apply for an Award.

We looked also at how external communications could publicise the Awards and how social media is crucial to this goal. From our day, we are drafting a communications plan for the Awards which we hope will guide the charity over the next 10 months.

Indeed, we’ve pledged to provide advice and counsel to Making the Leap in future months to support the communications of the inaugural Awards.

The day showed us the good work that is being done on our doorstep and how young lives can be transformed through focused education.

Workshop with Making The Leap

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