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  1. ITV Report

Would you pass the 'poshness test'? People with working class backgrounds locked out of top jobs

Young people from working-class backgrounds are being systematically excluded from jobs in top legal and accountancy firms because they're not posh enough.

Credit: PA

The chairman of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, Alan Milburn, accused firms of imposing a poshness test effectively excluding recruits whose parents do not have "the right sort of bank balances".

A study of 13 elite law, accountancy and financial services firms carried out for the commission found that 70% of job offers last year went to graduates who had been to fee-paying or selective state schools.

The former Labour cabinet minister said the findings should be a "wake up and smell the coffee moment" for employers who needed to ensure their recruitment practices were genuinely meritocratic.

Credit: PA

This research shows that young people with working-class backgrounds are being systematically locked out of top jobs.

Elite firms seem to require applicants to pass a 'poshness test' to gain entry. Inevitably that ends up excluding youngsters who have the right sort of grades and abilities but whose parents do not have the right sort of bank balances. In some top law firms, trainees are more than five times likely to have attended a fee-paying school than the population as a whole. They are denying themselves talent, stymying young people's social mobility and fuelling the social divide that bedevils Britain.

– Alan Milburn

So, would you pass the poshness test? Many top firms recruit students from private schools. And typically, 40% to 50% of applicants are educated at the elite Russell Group universities, which are. So, to pass the test, you need to have gone to one of the following universities:

Today's report indicates a huge threat to Britain's social mobility and our economic growth. While more employers are creating paid internships and apprenticeships to attract bright young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, too many are still guilty of hiring in their own image.

Drawing from a narrow pool of private school and Russell Group educated applicants will lead to a skills shortage and generation of wasted talented.

With the capital alone expected to create an extra 145,000 jobs over the next decade, it is essential that employment opportunities are opened up to the best candidates from all walks of life.

– Mark Boleat, City of London Corporation