Wednesday, August 12, 2009

British professions

The London Times reports on a British government report on the socioeconomic background of new lawyers, doctors, journalists, and accountants: Top professions 'operate closed shop to exclude the poor'

"Law, medicine and other professions have become more exclusive in the past 30 years, drawing recruits from better off, middle-class families, a government report has found.
Other former trades, such as journalism, have evolved into “modern professions”. They are increasingly colonised by middle-class graduates and offer fewer opportunities for young people with lesser qualifications to get a foot on the ladder.
Barriers to all professions, traditional and modern, have also sprung up — most notably internships — making it even more difficult for children from poor backgrounds with few connections to break in.
The report on access to the professions was commissioned by Gordon Brown and written by Alan Milburn, the former Health Secretary. He said traditional and modern professions had a “closed shop” mentality, blocking mobility and shutting their doors to children from poorer backgrounds."
"Professions should also be obliged to report to ministers on how they offered internships. In recent years these unpaid and often lengthy periods of work experience have become the gateway to the best jobs. Mr Milburn said that too often such placements depended on who you knew.
The report revealed that the law is the most exclusive profession. Lawyers who entered the profession in the 1990s typically grew up in families with incomes 64 per cent above average. Those starting out in the 1970s came from homes with incomes 40 per cent above average. Three quarters of judges and two thirds of top barristers are privately educated. “Modern professions”, such as journalism, are not far behind, with degrees and even postgraduate qualifications and an internship now the norm for entry.
Most journalists and broadcasters are from wealthy families and more than half have been privately educated. Forty years ago, only a tiny proportion of journalists were from privileged backgrounds and most worked their way up.
Accountancy is another new preserve of the middle classes. Forty years ago accountants starting work came from families on average incomes but 20 years later in the 1990s, accountants came from families on incomes 40 per cent above average. "

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wonder how this links, if at all, to behavioral population genetics (recent buzz about the heritability of executive function, about "grit" vs. IQ).

Hopefully Anonymous