Whilst the issue of access to the professions is relatively well understood, there is limited understanding of the impact of entrants’ backgrounds on success once in graduate employment.
This research brief is based on research conducted by Jake Anders, from the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR), exploring graduate pay progression. The research published with upReach looks at the way social background continues to influence graduate pay and career progression once in professional employment.
- Three and a half years after graduation, private school graduates in top jobs earn £4,500 more than their state school counterparts
- Their salaries also increase more quickly than for state school graduates – growing by £3,000 more over the same three-year period
- Half of this pay difference can be explained by the variables such as type of higher education institution attended or prior academic achievement
- Half cannot be explained by factors accounted for in this research. This implies that non-academic skills such as articulacy or assertiveness could play
an important role in accessing high-status jobs, and wider societal factors may also play a role
- Graduates from less privileged backgrounds are marginally more likely to remain in high-status jobs, with 71% still in such employment three and half
years after graduation (compared to 65% for their more privileged peers)
- Our research suggests that the type of school attended, as well as the non-academic skills developed there, may have an impact on graduates’ professional futures. This can be seen both in terms of access to professional employment and subsequent pay progression. It is crucial that employers have the tools and expertise to understand the social makeup of their applicants and recruits so that they can make fair judgements about their potential and provide tailored support to enable those from less privileged backgrounds to thrive once in employment.
- This study builds on research suggesting that unobserved factors such as non-academic skills play a crucial role in access to, and progression within, professional employment. Graduates from less privileged backgrounds have the same academic potential, yet their talent may not be fully expressed in graduate application processes or in career progression once in a professional job. Employers should be encouraged to support less privileged undergraduates to develop these skills. This could deliver real benefits to employers through facilitating greater access to a wider pool of diverse talent. Graduates from less privileged backgrounds applying for high status jobs should be identified early on in the application process and during employment to allow graduate employers to support the best talent to progress regardless of social background. This support might include mentoring opportunities, career coaching and application guidance to help improve key non-academic skills.
- Previous studies have shown that people from particular backgrounds are disproportionately represented in certain professions. Further research should be undertaken to understand the distribution of less privileged graduates in the labour market and the impact of non-academic skills on graduate career progression. Additionally, more research is needed to fully understand the challenges less privileged graduates face within specific professions and identify the areas where interventions can have the greatest impact.
The research brief was covered in print in the Times, Daily Telegraph (page 1), Independent, i newspaper, Guardian, Daily Mail and Daily Mirror. It was a front page story in the Yorkshire Post and was covered on Sky News, BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 1 morning news bulletins and LBC Radio. It was also covered by the Press Association and BBC News online. Read more below
Here is a selection of the coverage
- Privately educated graduates ‘earn more’ than state school colleagues (BBC News)
- Private education pays off for graduates as salary gap widens (The Times, £)
- Privately educated earn more than state school pupils once they get a top job (Yorkshire Post)
- Privately-educated graduates ‘blag their way to high salaries’, report says (Daily Telegraph)
- Didn’t go to a private school? Who cares. Here’s how to negotiate a pay rise anyway (Telegraph)
- Pay rises quicker for privately educated graduates, study finds (The Guardian)
- Why private school pupils earn more (Daily Mail)
- How private education pays in your first job (Daily Mail)
- Career and pay gap between private and state-school educated graduates ‘is growing’, says new report (Independent)
- Holly Baxter: What’s the difference between a private school education and a state one? The size of your ego (Independent)
- This is how much more people earn if they’ve been to private school (City AM)
- Privately-educated workers earn £4,450 more for the same job – how to get a pay rise (Mirror)
- Graduates who went to private school ‘get bigger pay rises’ (Times Higher)
- State-educated graduates face ‘disadvantage’ in pay progression – study (Press Association/Yahoo)
- The power of the old school tie lives on (New Statesman)
- Private school graduates get bigger pay rises (Economia)