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The House of Lords Social Mobility Committee’s report considered the degree to which there was the potential for movement from one social class to another by young people during the transition from school into work. The Committee concluded that, for the majority of young people who left academic education after their GCSEs to enter work, there were significant barriers to social mobility. This, the Committee argued, was because the transition into work was often confusing and was badly organised by the Government, education providers and employers. For example, young people found themselves missing out on opportunities for entering skilled employment because they did not know what skills were needed by local employers.

The Committee made a number of recommendations, including that the Government change the way education is structured, creating a new ‘transition period’ starting at age 14 and continuing until 18 or 19. The Committee proposed that this stage should have its own core curriculum, with tailor-made academic and vocational courses available. Young people would be guided during this period to make decisions that would impact their future career options. They would also be provided with greater support by schools, working with employers, to develop the skills needed in their local economy.

In its response to the Committee’s report, the Government rejected the proposal to create a new extended transition stage. Instead, it argued that it was already taking steps to improve social mobility through its reforms to the curriculum, changes to technical education and by increasing the number of apprenticeships available. The Government’s response was subsequently criticised by members of the Committee during a debate in the House of Lords in December 2016, including by the chair, Baroness Corston (Labour), who said that the Committee’s conclusions had not been fully addressed.

Subsequently, the Government has made a number of further policy announcements related to the issues considered by the Committee, including technical education, apprenticeships and careers education and support. These were summarised in January 2018, by the then Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, who published an update on the Government’s response to the Social Mobility Committee’s report, following the request of the Senior Deputy Speaker and chairman of the House of Lords Liaison Committee, Lord McFall of Alcluith.

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