Supporting social mobility through education - KPMG United Kingdom
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Supporting social mobility
through education

We’ve been focused on improving social and economic equality across the UK for over 20 years and are determined to continue to play a hands-on role.

We’ve been focused on improving social and economic equality across the UK for over 20 years and are determined to continue to play a hands-on role.

We’re a founding signatory of the Social Mobility Pledge and are incredibly proud to have our efforts recognised by being ranked first in this year’s Social Mobility Employer Index.

Our approach is focused on promoting lifelong learning and increasing numeracy and literacy skills to drive opportunity for people from lower socio-economic backgrounds across the UK.

On 16th May 2018, we were proud to be the founding supporter, together with National Numeracy, of the UK’s first ever National Numeracy Day.

Numeracy, along with literacy and life skills, are the building blocks of social mobility. But many adults in the UK, through no fault of their own, do not have the numeracy skills that everyday life demands.

National Numeracy Day highlighted the benefits of good numeracy and encouraged people to take action to improve their skills.

As well as helping over 25,000 people take the first step to improving their numeracy levels, we worked with primary and secondary schools to deliver National Numeracy Day toolkits designed to engage students with their future careers. So far our toolkits have been shared with approximately 3000 students across the UK including social mobility coldspots such as Bradford, Oldham and Doncaster.

No one accepts illiteracy - we must do all we can to build the same attitude to numeracy.

We know that 68% of UK employers are concerned about employees’ ability to sense-check numbers and we need to address this. We also know from our work with schools and young people, that levels of numeracy are key barriers to social mobility. With the help of other businesses, we can start to change this.

Melanie Richards, Deputy Chair, KPMG UK

Supporting social mobility through education

Every business in the UK runs on numbers, which is why it’s so fundamental – whatever your business – that employees have the essentials of numeracy. Through National Numeracy Day we’re aiming to raise awareness of the benefits of improved numeracy levels to employers, individuals and the economy.

Mike Ellicock, Chief Executive of National Numeracy

Poor numeracy doesn't just impact individuals' lives, it impacts families with a cost of over £20 billion to the UK economy, and society overall. Poor numeracy skills are also a key barrier to social mobility, an area that KPMG has been committed to for over 20 years. Over the last year, we've worked with National Numeracy to create National Numeracy Day as an annual celebration and a call to action. We want people to recognise the importance of numbers and, if they need to, improve their own skills.

Bill Michael, Chairman and Senior Partner, KPMG UK

Our efforts this year have been focused on addressing regional inequality.

We know that if we really want to improve social mobility, it’s crucial that we open up access to high-quality employment opportunities across the country. At the moment, where you are born can have a huge influence on the opportunities available to you. This is why addressing the geography of disadvantage is a key priority for us.

At a time when our country is increasingly polarised – politically, socially and economically – we have an integral role in ensuring we bring the best talent, from all backgrounds, into our organisations. Being an Access Accountancy signatory and leader commits KPMG to doing just that.

Rachel Hopcroft, Head of Corporate Affairs, KPMG UK and Chair of the Access Accountancy Patron Group

Back in April 2014, KPMG UK took a leading role in launching Access Accountancy: a voluntary social mobility initiative driven by professional bodies and UK accountancy firms to raise awareness of and widen access to the profession.

Through our Discovery programme – our one-week work placement scheme, offered exclusively to students from low socio-economic backgrounds across the UK – we’re working towards the Access Accountancy membership ambition of providing 3,750 30-hour placements to students from low socio-economic backgrounds by 2019.

In 2018, 142 young people participated on the Discovery programme and were able to fast-track through the application process onto the KPMG360° apprenticeship. 13% of Discovery participants in 2017 started an apprenticeship with the firm this year.

We want to make sure we’re supporting the communities where engagement from employers is most needed. We’ve strengthened our regional presence by setting up Corporate Responsibility hubs in our Birmingham and Manchester offices, to help tackle the geography of disadvantage in areas of lowest social mobility including the Black Country, Oldham and Bradford.

Our time has been dedicated to convening local businesses and developing the essential skills of young people in social mobility coldspots. In 2017, we were appointed as a Cornerstone Employer by the Careers and Enterprise Company, working with over 900 young people in the Norwich and Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Areas this year.

To help bring alternative and innovative skills provision to the communities of Stretford and Trafford and to the boroughs of Greater Manchester, we’re a lead supporter of University Academy 92 (UA92), the new higher education institution in Trafford, developed in collaboration with Lancaster University and the Class of 92. Our support includes collaborative targeted outreach and work-based learning opportunities for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds - helping ensure that UA92 becomes a key asset for its local and surrounding communities.

With industry engagement and personal development at the heart of the UA92 student experience, we believe there is a real opportunity to help improve outcomes for students who otherwise may not have considered university.

Nicola Quayle, Office Senior Partner at KPMG UK in Manchester

Supporting social mobility through education

Our WorkReady programme allows young people to learn about the changing world of work and the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills and careers. The success of this programme has meant we’ve reached over 1,000 students in social mobility coldspots to help them develop essential skills.

We’re not just talking about technology – we’re also using it to reach even more young people. In November, we launched a pilot programme with Innovations for Learning which will see 20 of our volunteers support primary school pupils in Bradford with literacy and reading skills as part of the TutorMate project. Our colleagues will support pupils remotely from their desk, using an innovative tutoring platform trialled successfully by our US firm.

The WorkReady programme is a fantastic proposition for our students, and this year’s evaluation shows the impact it’s having on their development around the essential skills to support lifelong learning. Having a range of volunteers from KPMG and the firm’s clients really enhanced the delivery. We’re looking forward to welcoming them back for SkillsBuilder extension activities in 2019.

David Roberts, Assistant Head Teacher, Baysgarth School, Hull

Supporting social mobility through education

Find out more about our firm’s work on social mobility on the Our People page.