Virgin Trains has become the first train operating company to be named an accredited Social Mobility Employer, as part of a nation-wide drive to improve social mobility in the UK.
The train operator has signed up to the Social Mobility Pledge, which encourages businesses to play a role in tackling social mobility by providing training and employment opportunities to local people from disadvantaged communities.
The Social Mobility Pledge commits employers and businesses to play their part in ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential – irrespective of background. In its 2017 ‘State of Social Mobility in Britain’ report, the Sutton Trust found that the UK ranks near the bottom for income mobility across OECD nations.
The campaign was launched in Parliament in March 2018 by former Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening MP and now covers more than 1.8 million employees. It is a commitment from businesses large and small across Britain to become a Social Mobility Pledge accredited employer, by taking three simple steps:
1. Partnership – with schools or colleges to provide coaching through quality careers advice, enrichment experience and/ or mentoring to people from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances.
2. Access – providing structured work experience and/or apprenticeship opportunities to people from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances
3. Recruitment – adopting open employee recruitment practices which promote a level playing field for people from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances, such as name blind recruitment or contextual recruitment.
The pledge is backed by major employers such as BT, Aviva, Adidas, ITV, True Potential, KPMG and others.
Currently Virgin Trains run a number of initiatives including a programme aiming to get ex-offenders back in to work, partnering with schools where pupils have an introduction into the railway industry as well as providing work experience placement and apprenticeships.
Ms Greening said: “Business has a key role in improving social mobility in our country. That’s why I am asking businesses large and small to commit to a universal social mobility pledge.
“For me, social mobility is something that we have never had in this country. It is a structural deficit on opportunity that has persisted for decades and we need to recognise that.
“We need to get more opportunities for more young people, so that we have equality of opportunity. The Social Mobility Pledge is a step along the road to delivering just that.”
Natasha Grice, People Director of Virgin Trains, said: “We are absolutely delighted to sign the Social Mobility Pledge and to be officially recognised as a social mobility employer. We have many exceptionally talented people working with us from diverse and individual backgrounds. It’s the collection of those talents and experiences that makes us a successful business.”