In the last blog of the ‘All pupils, every ambition: Future work’ campaign, the focus was on post-school options and examined if going to university was right for everyone. As commented in that piece, success comes in many forms and whilst university can be an excellent option for some, it is not the only route to success.  Many industries and employers are beginning to value and appreciate the benefits of diversifying the workforce from those traditionally represented in industry.

Why are employers changing?

It is recognised that talent is everywhere, but opportunity isn’t. At Allen & Overy, we believe it’s our responsibility to give everyone a fair chance, regardless of background.   For many years, consideration of things such as the link between attainment and socioeconomic standing have not been given the weight they deserve. The last decade in particular has seen a significant increase in recognition of the real and perceived barriers to progression in the workplace. University access programmes and outreach are clear examples of the societal shift to understanding that merit and potential need to be reviewed holistically to account for factors influencing people’s attainment and opportunities in life.

What do the changes mean for young people?

The changes in society mean that industries such as the legal profession, once seen as accessible only for those from more privileged backgrounds are starting to become more open to a wider range of entry requirements.

Changes also mean that young people need to be proactive in their research into their career options. There are many ways to get a degree (if needed) in today’s society for example. Gone are days where going to a university full time was the only way to get a degree. Part-time study, degree apprenticeships and distance learning are all fairly new offerings. The same applies to some industries, such as the new solicitor apprenticeships offered at Allen & Overy, aimed at school leavers and which provide an opportunity to get a law degree and professional qualification (SQE) while working.  We strive to be open, accessible, and inclusive and we understand that we have a key role to play in creating and offering opportunities in the legal profession.

How can governors help?

Being an engaged and active promoter of careers education on your board is important. Having an up-to-date and current knowledge of what schools should be doing is a key way to know how your school is currently performing. Enhancing this with knowledge of innovative approaches to progression – such as our solicitor apprenticeship and graduate options means you can inform your questioning of policy with real-world examples.

An ever-changing society is accelerating change within the recruitment industry. Merit and potential can be considered in a holistic manner which can reduce real and perceived barriers to progression into a wide range of roles. Schools need to be familiar with these changes in order to showcase current, diverse, and attractive opportunities to the diverse communities they serve. Governors can be in the vanguard of this movement by ensuring schools are held to account, the right questions are asked and high-quality, robust skills-based careers education is offered to all young people, regardless of background.

Support a school in need. Become a governor. Governors for Schools will support you to make sure you are equipped to make a difference.

For information about All pupils, every ambition: Future work, see here.

For information about Allen & Overy apprenticeship opportunities, see here.

All of this term’s articles and campaign resources were made possible through the support of Allen & Overy.