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12.01.12

Clegg’s social mobility campaign secures 100 big companies

Over 100 big companies have joined Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s campaign to boost social mobility by fighting the existing internship culture.

The campaign seeks to end the ‘who you know’ culture, where useful contacts and higher incomes allow certain families to help their children into work. Over a third of all graduate vacancies are expected to be taken by people who have already worked for the firm while studying.

The companies have all signed a ‘business compact’, pledging to pay wages, or expenses to all young people on internships, advertise all work experience places, make access to internships open and transparent, ensure application forms do not ‘screen out’ people on the basis of their education or ethnicity, and visit schools and colleges to talk about their work and take part in mentoring schemes.

Businesses who have signed up include Barclays, Asda, M&S, BP, CocaCola and law firm Allen & Overy.

Clegg is writing to 50 other businesses, urging them to take part. He said: “By opening their doors to young people from all walks of life, this marks the start of a culture shift among major employers, driven by the belief that ability and drive should trump connections and privilege. This is an important step towards a society where it’s what you know, not who you know, that counts.”

However, both Clegg himself and the Liberal Democrat party have been criticised for using contacts to get work experience and for using unpaid interns.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@publicsectorexecutive.comjj”

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