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Chamber Chat with Charlotte Rawes

The recent Social Mobility Commission (SMC) ‘State of the Nation 2023’ report makes for stark reading for Lancashire residents, educators and businesses, with the county scoring high for childhood poverty and disadvantage, low for socio-cultural advantage, and languishing at the very bottom of the lowest quartile for the ‘promising prospects’ outcome.

The annual report focuses on 5 measures of social mobility across 41 regions of the UK; childhood poverty and disadvantage, precarious situations, promising prospects, research and development, and socio-cultural advantage. The data is analysed by the SMC with each region then being ranked against each measure.  None of the outcomes for Lancashire were particularly positive – and I am sure we are all aware of the many complex issues which will have an impact upon the data that this report is based upon – but seeing the Red Rose County had scored lowest against the promising prospects measure, was particularly jarring.

We know that the drivers for social mobility include quality of education, potential earnings and home ownership, and that these factors can be limited for young people brought up in rural villages, seaside towns and former industrial areas, with seemingly fewer opportunities for aspirational career progression within the region.  It is this awareness that makes me even more determined to support our community to be able to access innovative, relevant and robust careers advice and guidance, working with partner employers, schools, local agencies and councils to ensure that all of our residents – young and old – are given every opportunity to thrive and achieve.

Our local and regional business community are working in collaboration with The Lancashire Colleges to identify skills gaps and co-create a curriculum which meets the needs of industry, whilst offering learners to opportunity to gain relevant qualifications and develop work-ready knowledge and behaviours, enabling them to progress into meaningful employment.

So, whilst the State of the Nation may not be an easy read for those of us who live, work and study in this wonderful county, we are working hard with our stakeholders and employer partners to raise aspirations and increase social mobility for our whole community.

Charlotte Rawes is Vice Principal at Lancaster & Morecambe College (LMC). LMC are Chamber Ambassadors.