Accounting industry joins Social Mobility Business Partnership

Accounting industry joins Social Mobility Business Partnership

Social mobility is not up to one organisation - it is up to all of us to work together towards improving it

The accountancy profession has pledged to support the Social Mobility Business Partnership (SMBP) as the initiative enters into its fifth year.

The SMBP, formerly the Legal Social Mobility Partnership, is a charity supporting students from low income backgrounds to pursue a career, in particular in either law or finance.

As the programme celebrates its fifth year it welcomes the accounting industry and continues on its path of impressive growth, now providing over 500 student places across the UK.

Those involved in the SMBP include a combination of professional bodies like The Bar Standards Board, ACCA, ICAS, and the ICAEW, social mobility experts like The Sutton Trust and IntoUniversity, and then commercial businesses, law and accountancy firms, and professional sports clubs.

These organisations and businesses collaborate to deliver week-long work insight programmes as well as frequent career coaching for students. This is additional to individual accountancy firms providing their own social mobility initiatives.

Summer work insight weeks gives students the chance to visit four different businesses, including Big Four firm PwC, as well as a professional sports club to learn about the mental health side of resilience and achieving goals.

Students will then gain insight into the accountancy profession as well as receiving general ongoing careers support from virtual coaches to help them with applications, CVs, and interviews.

The SMBP is geographically expanding as well as increasing in the number of people it is encouraging to begin the programme. It started up in 2014 in London with 20 students and expanded to cities like Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham in the following years so that now 70 organisations are involved.

Now there are over 500 student places and the initiative has expanded into Glasgow and Norwich. The expansion also meant the number of student places in Leeds and Manchester rose so students from Opportunity Areas Bradford and Oldham could participate.

The LSMP was registered as a charity in 2017 and renamed the SMBP, simultaneously expanding its scope to include the accountancy profession as well as legal.

Barry Matthews, director of legal affairs and third party sales at ITV and CEO of SMBP, said: “The success of the scheme is built on the ethos of collaboration and the belief that no one organisation owns social mobility as an issue.

“Through our 100 plus partners we have created a model which makes the step on point for businesses easy. Our ‘off the shelf’ inductions and resilience days created by our supporting regulators and resilience partner, Cleartrack, has enabled volunteers from businesses and professional sports clubs alike to deliver them.

“Our student sourcing relationships with other charities and local authorities including the Sutton Trust and IntoUniversity, has ensured a ‘baton pass’ approach to solving the issue of social mobility rather than a competitive one.”

Claire Bennison, head of ACCA UK, said: “Accountancy has never been more diverse and offers many flexible routes into a successful global business career.

“SMBP is a wonderful example of how professions and businesses can work together to show leadership on diversity and access.  This initiative has real energy and rooted in the idea of giving young people skills that will open up choices and opportunity to them

“I hope that for many of the participants this marks the first step on a long and successful accountancy career.”

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