ENABLE: Breaking the class ceiling

 In Employment, News

Last month’s BBC documentary ‘Breaking Into The Elite’ questioned how meritocratic the journey to securing a ‘top job’ truly is; revealing how class, race and regionality still prove to be barriers for accessing professional well-paid careers.

Following a group of graduates taking their first steps into the careers they had studied towards, the documentary captured many issues faced by young people in the communities we work in, including the anxiety faced by performing in an unfamiliar corporate setting to navigating a space where nobody shares the same cultural reference points. As one of the graduates commented:

“The problem [is] no-one is reminded of [themselves] when they look at me … because companies aren’t as diverse …when they find a bond with someone, it’s not going to be me.”

For ELBA, our work over the last 30 years with young people from disadvantaged communities speaks to the fact that individuals’ life chances are frequently limited by their socio-economic background, regardless of their talent, potential or hard work, with disadvantage passed from generation to generation. With a strong focus on supporting the personal and professional development of young people, our Employment and Skills programmes not only seek to address workplace diversity and inclusion objectives but break the links that prevent social mobility.

Sometimes thought of as code for privilege and a posh accent, and commonly referred to as presentable, confident or assertive, the idea of a “polished” candidate can be difficult to decode due to the subjectivity of language used.

ENABLE, a collaborative project between ELBA and HSBC, supports people in our communities to develop the communication skills needed to improve their current or future employment prospects and earnings. Using our expertise, experience and local knowledge, we have created a ground-breaking training programme that supports people both in and out of work to communicate confidently and authentically; by providing the tools to feel comfortable within a range of work scenarios via face to face workshops, on-line resources (incl. videos) and activities led by business volunteers.

ELBA’s mission is not about breaking the class system but providing opportunities, access and the right skill set for people to thrive.

For volunteering opportunities to facilitate communication and employability workshops or to provide mentoring, work experience or placements for talented local candidates, please contact the Employment and Skills Team on: employment@elba-1.org.uk.

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