House of Lords Select Committee Report on Social Mobility Published

I grew up in working class Kidderminster and am now in the House of Lords.  I haven’t the first idea how this came to pass but I guess social mobility must be in it somewhere.

It was that and more which made me delighted to be part of the select committee on social mobility, our report is published today.

Our report focusses not on those on the A-level University pathway, nor on the NEETs, both groups pretty well served, from policy, think tanks and successive Governments at least.  No, our focus was the large group in between, those who we found suffering incoherent options, chaos and confusion.  Those who we concluded were experiencing a terrible muddle in the middle.

We wanted to be sure that our recommendations wouldn’t add to the policy fragmentation which has hindered progress and clarity. Instead we recommend a cohesive system: a core curriculum for those aged 14 –19, with tailor made academic or vocational elements, a gold standard in careers advice, and careers education in schools that empowers young people to make good decisions about their future.

This system needs to be underpinned by reliable and publicly available data. It needs to be properly funded, owned by a single Minister, and monitored for success. Only by taking these actions can we make sure that all of our young people have the best chances of success.

We also need to see an end to the inequality between university and other routes, inequality in terms of funding, inequality in terms of thinking.

What is perhaps most pressing though for policy makers and frankly, for us all is the revolution currently underway which will leave our labour market changed beyond recognition, most pertinent here, so many of those jobs which were the enablers of social mobility from the sixties onwards, those jobs, swept away on a tide of turmoil and tech.

In the UK 35% of jobs are in danger of automation, by the same token, over one million new jobs required in the digital sector by the end of this decade alone.  What these new opportunities will require is far more focus on skills rather than subjects and resilience rather than rote learn.

What we need is focus, on the individual. What services and support, can be wrapped around them, not least careers education and guidance, character education, communication skills, team working, self-management and self belief to name just some.

As communities, as a country, we can no longer continue to tolerate this lack of focus on such a large group of our young people, this waste, this wanting.  We need to smash the silos; between Government departments, between different routes, silos of thinking, silos that stifle, silos that stunt.  The silos must be smashed, individual’s purpose must be pushed to the fore and then, then we can unleash the talent.

Chris voted best speaker at major HR Conference

The ‘Future Talent’ conference, organised by Changeboard, was designed to inspire and empower senior HR and talent professionals. Over 700 people came to listen to an incredible speaker line up including Ruby Wax and Alain de Botton. Chris was delighted to be invited to take part and the title of Chris’s talk was “Smash the silos: Real inclusion counts”.  He spoke powerfully about the way in which flat structures can allow all the people in an organisation to make their voices heard. Drawing on his experiences as part of the Olympic bid team and then as Director at London 2012 Paralympics leading 70,000 Gamesmakers he underlined that “smashing silos, promoting the purpose and unleashing your people” really is a recipe for success. Chris has a passion for sharing his experiences in leadership, performance management, setting a vision for a team that leads to meaningful improvement and the demonstrable benefits of promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. “Not because it’s a nice thing to do but because it improves your organisation.” In advance of the conference, Chris shared further lessons, about the importance of stepping outside your comfort zone to do things a little differently. Chris was stunned to be voted best speaker and described it as an “absolute honour”.

Unlocking Opportunities, new resource for teachers with disabled students

Unlocking Opportunities is a practical online training course to help schools to meet their Equality Act duties and remove barriers to education for disabled learners. It is for everyone who works in schools and will help staff to understand what equality law says and what it means in practice for teaching and learning. Schools can register for FREE and start using the online resource to train staff in the subject of reasonable adjustments.  Watch Chris introduce the resource in a youtube clip or head straight to the website.

Chris to chair YODA (Channel 4s Year of Disability Adviser Group)

Channel 4 has announced 2016 as the network’s Year of Disability. Exactly a year ago Channel 4 launched their 360 Degrees Diversity Charter which laid out a number of diversity targets. This year, the Year of Disability, Channel 4 has introduced new targets specifically on disability and Chris is delighted to chair the group of experts who will be known collectively as YODA (Year of Disability Advisers).  Other initiatives are to double the number of disabled people in C4’s most popular shows, invest £300,000 behind the scenes, assist the career progress of 20 disabled people among its suppliers and commit half of its apprenticeships and 30% of work experience placements to disabled youngsters.

There are more than 12 million disabled people living in Britain today, yet just 2.5% of people on screen are disabled. Only half of disabled people in Britain are in work compared to four fifths of non-disabled people. There are significant barriers to opportunity and Channel 4’s moves to increase participation by disabled people both on screen and behind the cameras is to be welcomed.

 Chris said:

“Three years ago, London 2012 was seen as a turning point for the visibility and inclusion of disabled people in our society, driving a clear social, economic, physical and cultural legacy for disabled people. Since then, Britain has made progress on many fronts but there is increasing evidence that disabled people are being locked out or left behind.

“Far from enjoying increased visibility and being able to participate more fully in every aspect of life there is a risk that disabled people will become more invisible as both consumers and participants, with organisations losing out on their valuable experiences and custom.”

“I welcome the moves by Channel 4 to make real progress on this issue and urge other businesses and service providers to look again and what they are doing and what they are able to do to increase representation and participation by disabled people in order to unlock the talent that is out there and to avoid Britain becoming a more segregated society.”

“This isn’t about political correctness, or being “nice”, it’s about this, creative, competitive edge.”

Channel 4 enlists YODA for its Year of Disability, Disability News Service

 

Introducing Guide Dog Lottie

Chris was honoured to be featured in one of the first video portraits of dog owners and their pets produced by Pet Fi, a new website for pet owners aiming to provide a gateway to beautiful storytelling and exceptional experiences for the discerning pet owner. Learn more about how Chris and Lottie work together, why having a guide dog is “the difference between crawling and flying” and what Lottie gets up to at the weekends!

Celebrating 20 years of the Disability Discrimination Act

Chris on BBC News channel to discuss Disability Discrimintaion Act 20th anniversary

The Disability Discrimination Act was a significant achievement in advancing the rights of disabled people. It focused on driving social change towards the full inclusion of disabled people at every level of society. However, twenty years on, there are still issues impacting on the enforcement of disability equality rights. Chris chairs the Disability Committee at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and their recent report “Is Britain Fairer?” clearly shows that disabled people in Britain still face daily challenges. Many are still ‘locked out’ of full participation in society due to barriers remaining in the provision of housing, transport, leisure facilities, education and workplaces. Chris wants to use this anniversary as an opportunity to highlight that using the Equality Act, we must all work together to continue to highlight, address and remove those remaining barriers disabled people face to full and fair inclusion.

20 years on from the Disability Discrimination Act disabled people’s rights are still not yet fully realised EHRC

Is Britain Fairer? EHRC

Hague’s great achievement, Conservative Home

Justin Tomlinson MP: The Disability Discrimination Act laid the foundations for equality – now we must finish the job, Conservative Home

 

Daily Politics asks if ‘shared space’ is safe….

Inside Daily Politics Studio with Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn

Chris answers with an emphatic NO!  The Daily Politics looked at shared space on the day of a debate Chris had tabled in the House of Lords to question the government over the controversial schemes he has been campaigning against. Shared space is a design approach which minimizes demarcations between vehicle traffic and pedestrians often removing features such as curbs, road surface markings, traffic signs, controlled crossings and regulations. Increasingly popular with local authorities Chris complains that it is a social experiment that risks public safety and scares people away from their own high streets. With increasing numbers of local authorities now facing legal action and/or making expensive U-turns Chris asked the government if Department for Transport guidance (LTN 1/11 Shared Space) is “fit for purpose”. He was joined in the debate by Lord Low, Baroness Thomas, Baroness Royall, Lord Tope, Lord Rosser and Lord Ahmed. Baroness Kramer dealt with this issue when she was Minister for Transport in the last government and it was great hearing that she very much supports the specific recommendations made in the Holmes Report.

Lord Holmes: Government must act on dangerous ‘shared space’ projects, Politics Home

Guide Dogs support Lord Holmes, Politics Home

Accidents by Design: The Holmes Report into Shared Space

Shared surface roads “like a pernicious class A drug” says Paralympic gold medallist, Cornish Guardian

Gloucestershire peer says shared space will turn city centres into ‘no go areas’ for deaf and blind, Gloucester Citizen

 

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