I’ve just read an academic paper entitled ‘Who gets the top jobs? The role of family background and networks in recent graduates’ access to high status professions’ – written by academics from the Universities of London and Cambridge, under the auspices of the Institute of Education
The researchers investigate aspects of the thorny question of social mobility, in the hope that understanding it better will generate more effective public policies.
Looking at graduates, they find (I think surprisingly, but you may not agree) that the single most influential factor affecting whether or not they secure jobs in ‘high status occupations’ is whether they were privately educated or went to a state school. Interestingly, this is even more important than their personal educational achievements, which university they went to, their parents’ occupations, or where they lived.
The researchers then wondered whether the graduates social networks might be responsible for this – and in a slightly perverse way, I’m glad to report that they didn’t find this to be the case. I say glad because although you could call me an evangelist for the power of professional (and other) networks, I am naturally uncomfortable with even a hint of nepotism or unfair advantage derived from the use of ‘ready-made’ (family and/or professional) networks. I firmly believe that all of us, even newcomers to this (or any other) country, or first-time graduates or career changers can, with a little skill and a lot of imagination and diligence, build an active and supportive network in a new area. And so gain an advantage derived from their own skills and expertise. And luckily, professional networking is a skill which can be taught effectively.
If you are interested, you can read the full article here: https://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?cluster=3060124704150884181&hl=en&as_sdt=1,5&as_vis=1