People from lower socio-economic backgrounds are feeling held back from applying for vacancies.

A report from Totaljobs and the Social Mobility Foundation has showed that this is due to a lack of career confidence.

Of those that started their first job in the last two years, only 51 percent of respondents from poorer backgrounds said they were confident they could do the job they want.

Meanwhile, 71 percent of candidates from a higher socio-economic backgrounds felt confident about their future prospects.

People from richer families were also more likely have benefitted from family connections when securing their first job.

Lower socio-economic background equals lower pay

This has culminated in a stark difference in pay with those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds earning less than half of what their more privileged counterparts do in their first job after full-time education (£11,595 versus £23,457).

Sarah Atkinson, CEO of The Social Mobility Foundation commented on these findings:

“The stark reality is where you grew up and what your parents did still has an impact on your opportunities and your earning potential. Employers can play a huge role in improving social mobility in the UK.”

The study also found that people from a lower socio-economic background put themselves forward for fewer roles after leaving school or university. And, one in seven said they did not feel confident writing a CV.

Fewer jobs that meet their skills

However, this comes hand in hand with other factors including limited jobs in their local area that are relevant to their skillset or experience (19 per cent), not having qualifications that meet the requirements of roles they want to apply for (16 per cent) and not being able to travel outside of their local area for work (13 per cent).

Jon Wilson, CEO of Totaljobs said:

“Social mobility is a long-standing, complex issue and there are many barriers that exist for those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. But limited family connections or the professions of someone’s parents should not impede their search for the right job.

What can businesses do to change this:

Businesses, now more than ever, need to implement a multi-pronged approach when it comes to boosting opportunity in the workplace, by reaching potential candidates in social mobility ‘cold spots’, engaging candidates with career advice and monitoring the diversity of their applications.

With record numbers of job vacancies in the UK, the ability of employers to find and hire the right people is vital.

By assessing hiring strategies to make them as inclusive as possible, employers can not only begin to remedy some of the inequality we see in employment, but reach a larger, more diverse pool of talent to hire from.


*Totaljobs surveyed 5,000 nationally representative UK adults aged 18-64 between 19th – 26th October 2021 via Opinium.