Supporting social mobility is key to the future of Bradford
The ‘expectation’ that one day I would get a job was always a given. Isn’t that what everyone should think?Will Richardson, PwC Senior Partner, Leeds
My mother was a school teacher and my father ran the local newsagent in the small Yorkshire market town of Masham. Growing up, I never questioned the fact that one day I would get a job and go out to work just as they did, I expected that it would simply ‘just’ happen. However, I didn’t have any particular aspirations or desire to be anything specific. I was surrounded by family and friends who had good ‘traditional’ jobs (my two older brothers went into the army and farming). I certainly never thought that I wanted to be an accountant, or a forensics partner when I grew up. I didn’t even know that professional services firms like PwC existed.
I left school with reasonable O-Levels but lacked direction. I started what was meant to be a management training scheme at a supermarket, but that quickly revealed itself as not being the ideal fit for me. This experience made me realise that I wanted more from my job. I left to start college and then polytechnic, paying my way through by working evenings in a pub, and then on building sites in the summer holidays.
Once I had obtained my degree, I was still not sure what I really wanted to do so I went along to a Careers Fair. Purely by luck, the first stand I visited was PwC, and that led me down the very fortunate path to where I am today.
For thousands of young people in Bradford, that ‘expectation’, never mind the ‘aspiration’, doesn’t exist!
You may be surprised to hear that Bradford is the 6th largest city in the UK and has a multi-ethnic population of more than 500,000 people. However, a third of adults are currently unemployed, with 40% of the city’s wards falling within the poorest 20% in Britain. I could go on with facts on the levels of deprivation or childhood illness, but the underlying theme is that the city faces some of the most challenging problems in the UK. Until we start to instill the ‘expectation’, and broaden ‘aspirations’ to support young people into rewarding careers, these issues will never improve.