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Supporting students from less-advantaged backgrounds to secure top jobs
In this update: Associate's story, Highlights of 2016, Latest Research, Meet the upReach Team, Alumni Launch and more

Associate's story

Sophie joined upReach as an Associate, and was closely supported by Deborah, her Programme Coordinator. Together they explored various career options and agreed an action plan to achieve Sophie's goals.

After two days of skills workshops on campus in Exeter in November and December 2013, Sophie followed a comprehensive programme of support over three years. She regularly attended live video forums, used resources and practised online tests on My.upReach, signed up for Insight Days at partner firms and received our support applying to various internship, placement and graduate programmes, including mock interviews and preparation for final-round interviews.

Sophie benefited from a four day Professional Experience programme offered exclusively to upReach Associates by KPMG, before going on to secure a Placement Year at North Highland, and a summer internship at McKinsey. Following a successful summer, Sophie accepted a job on McKinsey’s graduate programme in 2016. We’re delighted that she now supports our current Associates via our Alumni Network and recently chaired our first panel event for alumni.

Six months after graduation, 88% of upReach Associates that graduated in 2015 had secured a graduate role or internship. Those that had a graduate job were earning £3,500 more than the average graduate. The income statistic, while monitored, is reviewed in the context that we support students to achieve their individual career goals irrespective of the starting salary. 

Highlights of 2016


January - My first month as CEO at upReach coincides with new research showing children from more advantaged backgrounds are more likely to develop personality characteristics and aspirations which subsequently benefits them in the labour market.

Those from less-advantaged backgrounds tend to be at schools where there are fewer chances to develop soft skills due to less extra-curricular activities and a different classroom environment with larger class sizes and more behaviour issues.

Careers advice can be none-existent, which combined with a lack of a professional family network results in narrow career horizons, low aspirations and limited work experience opportunities. The research suggested they are more likely to experience stress and instability at home.

February - Six upReach Associates attend the Houses of Parliament to give evidence to a Government inquiry into Careers Advice, Information and Guidance. The upReach team deliver Skills Workshops to Associates on campus at five universities.

March - Archie Brixton, a former upReach Associate, and I sit on a panel giving evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility. upReach are selected by CAN to join their exclusive programme to accelerate social impact, and meet Rob Wilson MP, Minister for Civil Society, to discuss the new initiative.

April - upReach call for a £300m Independent School Pension Levy to end the teacher recruitment crisis and boost social mobility. I ask Nick Gibb, Minister for Schools, why a £500m per year government subsidy to private school teacher pensions exists, and am amazed when he told me this was to enable “fluidity between the sectors” - despite a net 2,000 teachers leaving state schools to work in private schools every year.

May - A record number of Associates secure graduate roles with our partner employers. Our Associates were on average five times more likely to be successful than an average applicant.

June - We create a unique technology partnership with JMAN Group and Aurum Info Solutions, maintaining upReach as the sector leader in using technology to deliver our service and measure engagement and impact.


In Autumn 2016, our Partner Employers hosted nine Insight Days for hundreds of Associates. We’re enormously grateful to our partner employers for providing these invaluable opportunities for our Associates to learn more about different careers.

July - Intensive two week training programme for our four new Programme Coordinators joining as part of our unique 30 month Future Charity Leaders Programme. Thanks to all involved including Sarah Webster, Dr Louise Ashley, Dr Sam Friedman, Trang Chu, Becky Dallison, the Behavioural Insights Team, McKinsey and our partner employers for contributing to an incredible training programme.

August - All of our 2015-16 Partner Employers and Universities renew their partnerships for the year ahead.

September - We welcome new Partner Employers, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and North Highland, and begin working with a variety of employers in other sectors our Associates are interested in.

October - Working with our Partner Universities, we take on a record 400 new Associates from less-advantaged backgrounds. Our new Advisory Board is established with a diverse group of high calibre stakeholders each with great experience in our sector and passion for social mobility. 

November - upReach partner with Applied, the tool created by the Behavioural Insights Team to eliminate bias from recruitment, to launch our 2017 FCLP graduate scheme. 

December - upReach launch new website. We are awarded a grant from BlackRock to enhance our mentoring platform and double the number of mentors we work with in 2017. upReach agree a new partnership with Nomura.

Latest Research


The body of evidence demonstrating the challenges faced by those from less-advantaged backgrounds in achieving their career potential has grown enormously over the last year. Whilst the problem of access to the top professions has been acknowledged for some time, new research confirms those from working class backgrounds are very under-represented in graduate schemes for many careers. 

Since upReach and the Sutton Trust first published research highlighting the issue of differential pay progression in August 2015, new research has also confirmed the presence of a class pay gap, whereby those from less-advantaged backgrounds earn less than those with identical academic qualifications from more-advantaged backgrounds.

Social Mobility Commission's new findings on the class pay gap via the Labour Force Survey

In January 2017, the Social Mobility Commission found evidence of a "powerful and largely unacknowledged class pay gap” within the professions of £6,800. Even when comparing individuals with the same education, occupation and level of experience, "those from working class backgrounds are still paid £2,242 less than more privileged colleagues". 

Social Mobility Commission research on access to life sciences and financial industries for working class candidates

In July 2016, the Social Mobility Commission found that access to graduate jobs in investment banking required a particular portfolio of economic, social and cultural capital, which is more available to young people from privileged backgrounds. A relatively high level of informality in final decision making often saw "hiring managers have a tendency to recruit for familiarity and similarity, and focus on perceived fit,” the latter often being determined by whether applicants shared a social or educational background with the hiring manager. 

Those from more affluent or professional backgrounds are also often advantaged by their existing social networks that help them gain work experience at school and to understand the application game and importance of engaging in their careers in their first year. The report cited leadership in extra-curricular activities as important in developing social confidence and communication skills that employers seek, which can conflict with essential non-professional paid employment for non-privileged students. 

IFS research on graduate earning variation

In April 2016, the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that graduates from higher income families earn 10% more than graduates from lower income families that studied the same course at the same university. This premium increases to 17% for higher paid roles.


The latest social mobility research can now be found on the upReach website. 

upReach programmes: focus on Rise

Rise is an intensive three year programme of professional development designed to broaden career horizons, raise aspirations and help our associates better understand and navigate their chosen career pathway. We regularly assess each associate against our Graduate Employability Framework, agreeing Action Steps to enable them to achieve their goals. Our support starts when a student begins their first year at university. 

Meet the upReach team

The upReach team are all passionate about working with students to help them broaden their career horizons, raise their aspirations and achieve their career goals.

To learn more about the team, or how you can support the charity as a volunteer, please visit the upReach website. 

Alumni Launch

In August, we launched our new Alumni and Friends Network with an event at our CAN offices. The Network will help former Associates support each other to progress in their careers, whilst providing opportunities to support our current Associates. 

Our second event in November featured an engaging panel discussion on "How to accelerate your career.” We’re very grateful to all the panel for a brilliant session, including Jonny Briggs, Global Head of Talent Acquisition at Aviva; Neeha Khurana, International Head of Talent at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Sasha Salmon, Senior Policy Advisor at the Department of Education; and Dr. Gloria Esegbona, Founder and Chief Executive of .thinkinbox.   


Thank you

upReach would like to thank all of those at our partner universities, partner employers and other organisations for their support in helping us to transform the career prospects of students from less-advantaged backgrounds. 

John Craven, Chief Executive, upReach

Support us

Your donation can transform the career prospects of students from less-advantaged backgrounds, providing them with opportunities they would otherwise not receive. Please contact the team if you require further information about supporting us.

Donate today
Do you have skills or experience you'd like to share with us? Contact us for more information on how you can help.

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