City calls for social mobility

THE CITY has called for a renewed effort to allow people from all social backgrounds to enter professional careers.<br /><br />City groups were alarmed by a study headed by former Labour minister Alan Milburn that said the rich found it much easier to access the top professions. They said the trend must be tackled head-on by the government and industry alike.<br /><br />Michael Izza, chief executive of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, said that while a lot has been done to widen access to accounting in the last two decades, investment is needed now more than ever.<br /><br />&ldquo;Professional service jobs like accountancy need to be a British strength if we are to compete globally going forward. This requires greater access to the profession from people of ability regardless of background,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />And David Morley, a senior partner at legal giant Allen &amp; Overy, said the study shows it is now harder to get into the professions if you come from a lower-income family than it was 30 years ago when he entered the law.<br /><br />&ldquo;It cannot be in the long-term interests of the professions or of society as a whole for that to be allowed to continue,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />The Fair Access to the Professions study said only children from the richest British families can enjoy careers in top professions like law and medicine because of increasingly impenetrable social barriers.<br /><br />It said there is a &ldquo;closed shop mentality&rdquo; in many professions which excludes young people from low and middle income backgrounds.<br /><br />And it said &ldquo;birth not worth&rdquo; has become the greatest factor in deciding someone&rsquo;s chances of success in their careers.