A new Prince’s Trust report shows a clear correlation between social background and life chances. The report reveals clear evidence of social immobility linked to a lack of “inherited opportunities”.

44% of young people from poorer backgrounds[i] say they didn’t know anyone who could help them find a job, compared to 26% of their more advantaged peers.

According to the research, young people from poorer backgrounds are less likely than their more affluent peers to have had help writing a CV, filling out a job application, preparing for an interview, or finding work experience or a first job thanks to “the social bank of mum and dad”.

  • While 20% of all young people polled found some work experience through their parents, only 10% of young people from a poorer background said they did
  • More than a quarter of young people from a poorer background (26%) think that people like them do not get good jobs, compared to 8% of their peers
  • More than a quarter of those from a poorer background (27%) feel their family “did not know how to support me when I left school”
  • More than half of young people (54%) “rarely” or “never” received help from their family with their homework.

Those who received more help with extracurricular activities, homework or finding work experience are more likely to have higher aspirations, be higher earners and have a positive outlook on life today.[ii]

The report also suggests a correlation between a lack of family support while growing up and the negative impact this can have on self-confidence, coping skills and employment prospects later in life:

  • More than a third of young people today (37%) say their family “rarely” or “never” talked to them about their ambitions, while more than one in ten (12%) believe their family “held them back”
  • The research indicates that many of these young people feel less able to cope with their problems, are more likely to feel “destined to fail” and are more likely to be unemployed today [iii]

Martina Milburn CBE, Prince’s Trust chief executive says:

There is a social bank of mum and dad which can open as many doors as the financial bank of mum and dad. Sadly, not all young people have the same access to it, and all too often young people are locked out of jobs and other opportunities simply because of where they’ve started in life.

“Over the last 40 years, The Prince’s Trust has provided an alternative support network for young people who may not have the family support they need. Three in four of the young people we help move into work, education or training, helping to build their self-esteem and break the cycle of poverty and disadvantage.”

The report, supported by HSBC to mark our 40th anniversary, also shows how The Trust has returned £1.4 billion in value to society through our help for disadvantaged young people over the last ten years alone.

The calculation, by NEF Consulting, takes into account the return on investment of getting young people off benefits, reducing offending and re-offending, helping young people to achieve at school, and the associated savings to the public purse.

Antonio Simoes, Chief Executive of HSBC Bank plc, said: 

As this report demonstrates, The Trust has not only made an incredible difference to young people in the UK over the last 40 years; it also has a wider impact on our society, communities and economy.

The Trust has helped hundreds of thousands of young people to overcome barriers like educational underachievement, mental health issues or poverty to build a better future. HSBC is proud to be associated with The Trust and to have worked together to help more than 10,000 young people into education, training or employment."

Graham Randles, Managing Director of NEF Consulting, said:

“Our calculations put a value on some of the work The Prince’s Trust has done with young people. They also show the potential for future benefits, with the right investment, over the years to come. By helping young people improve their lives and prospects, The Trust is clearly contributing to social mobility and improving the life chances of the next generation.”

[i] YouGov defined young people from poorer backgrounds based on a combination of relevant variables which can be seen as indicators of poverty, including family income and free school meals
[ii] The data shows some significant differences in income levels of young people today. 10% of those whose parents always, often or sometimes helped with their homework earn £25,000+ compared to 7% of those whose parents only did so rarely or never.  34% of those whose parents rarely or never helped now earn £5k or less, compared to 26% of those who parents helped always, often or sometimes.
[iii] More than one in 10 (11%) of young people whose parents did not help arrange work or work experience are currently NEET, compared with 6% of those whose parents did help.