The Sutton Trust continues its run of interesting research on diversity in education and the professions with a new report on ‘private pay progression‘. They introduce it by saying this:
Whilst the issue of access to the professions is relatively well understood, there is limited understanding of the impact of entrants’ backgrounds on success once in graduate employment.
The main findings that are that:
over a period of three years, private school alumni’s pay grew by 11% more than their state-educated peers (see Table 1).
This is supported by, “a study by the Social Market Foundation for the Sutton Trust has shown that, by the age of 42, a privately educated person will earn £193,700 more than a state educated person,” and, “Laurison and Friedman’s report on the ‘Class Ceiling’, which explains that “the upwardly mobile have, on average, considerably lower annual incomes (£8-14k) than higher-origin colleagues” even when they control for a range of different variables.” In the Sutton Trust study:
Over half the pay difference can be explained by the variables controlled for in our research, such as type of higher education institution attended. However other factors also play an important role in graduate pay progression
A plausible explanation is that non-academic skills such as articulacy or assertiveness could play an important role in accessing high-status jobs and career progression once in employment.
And add that:
…while candidates from non-privileged backgrounds score highly in most non-academic skills, they disproportionately lack self-confidence and awareness.
What they mean by awareness is not immediately clear. They go on:
differences in social capital [networks etc.] explained part of the pay disadvantage of the upwardly mobile.
There is the usual suggestion that employers should better train their non-privileged employees to be more self-confident and ‘aware’ and an acknowledgement that in areas such as the the solicitors’ profession much of the progression in salary during these first three years is baked into the training contract. The results may thus suggest that it is as much from more privileged backgrounds getting the better (in terms of salary ) training contracts as it is them being more assertive, articulate or having better networks. And whilst the survey speaks intelligently to a concern that professional employers are as great at identifying (and now promoting) talent as they think they are even though this should be an fundamental for human capital businesses, I can’t help imagining any managing partner reading the survey and then saying, well we want articulate, well networked , assertive individuals so what’s the problem? (Yes, I know it’s implausible to imagine a managing partner reading the survey, but you get the point).
Of perhaps greater interest to that rather insensitive, kind of bottom line thinking is another finding from the survey:
graduates from less privileged backgrounds are marginally more likely to remain in high-status jobs, with 71% still in such employment three and half years later (compared to 65% for their more privileged peers) (Figure 1), although this difference is only marginally statistically significant.
Rougher, more loyal diamonds vs floppy haired fickle fellas*? Well, we can see who is winning that fight so far.
- Apologies for the excessive, steroptypical alliteration, but I had to work the title in somewhere.