Medicine is an elitist profession that should do more to encourage poorer students, says former health secretary | Mail Online
Medicine is an elitist profession that should do more to encourage poorer students, says former health secretary
- Alan Milburn says professions should do more to encourage students from disadvantaged backgrounds
- Wants one-year foundation courses at medical schools
- Teenagers from state schools should get work experience in the professions
- Professions say they are already taking steps to open their ranks
- Around 83 per cent of jobs in the next decade will be in the professions, says Milburn
By Phil Vinter
12:49, 30 May 2012
15:24, 30 May 2012
Concerned: Mr Milburn, the Government¿s independent reviewer on social mobility, accused medicine and other professions of failing to attract disadvantaged students
Former health secretary Alan Milburn has slammed leaders in professions such as medicine for not doing enough to attract students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The Government’s independent reviewer on social mobility said ‘elitist’ professional training grounds like medical schools should be much more accessible to students from less well off families.
In a report published today Mr Milburn calls for students from state schools to be given work experience in the professions, including one-year foundation courses at medical schools.
But representatives of the professions insisted they were already taking action to open up their ranks to a broader range of candidates.
Louis Armstrong, chairman of the organisation Professions for Good, said many professions now have a variety of ways to join and qualify, including non-graduate routes.
He added: ‘Professions are now much more aware of the need for, and value of, diversifying both their membership and their routes of entry.
Mr Milburn’s report is expected to say that 83 per cent of jobs created in the next decade will be in the professions, increasing the proportion of the working population in professional careers from 42 per cent to 46 per cent by 2020.
The report says this should provide an opportunity for increased movement between the classes of the kind seen in the 1950s, as long as the doors to jobs are kept open for people from all backgrounds.
But Mr Milburn said there will not be a more mobile society unless create a level playing field of opportunity is created.
In an interview with the Guardian he said: ‘With medicine and with too many other professions, I see no great galvanising effort to change.
‘It is deeply regrettable since medicine has made such great progress in diversifying its intake in terms of race and gender. The medical profession knows what it needs to do, but frankly it is not doing it.
‘I wouldn’t view it as positive discrimination. I view it as widening the pool of talent from which medicine recruits.’
Must try harder: Mr Milburn says the medical profession has failed to make any great galvanising effort to open up doors to disadvantaged students
Mr Armstrong said the professions had already done a lot to address obstacles to social mobility raised by Mr Milburn in his earlier report, citing a 2011 code of practice for internships and a social mobility toolkit published earlier this year.
But he said more needed to be done including promoting diverse entry paths more widely, providing better advice to disadvantaged children and young adults through schools and encouraging employers to diversify their recruitment policies.
He said: ‘The list is long and there is no magic bullet. All professions are now at work on this important agenda. We are determined to play a full part in the Government’s long-term social mobility strategy.’
The chief executive of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), Michael Izza, said: ‘Professions like accountancy have always been major drivers of social mobility in society.
‘We are once again leading the way by opening up new routes into a professional career, through apprenticeships, pioneering projects in disadvantaged communities, but also by encouraging our member firms to offer a more diverse range of graduate internship opportunities.’
Defensive: Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Mr Milburn accused some of the professions of ‘shutting out opportunity’
Mr Milburn said there were questions over barriers put up by professions, such as access to work experience, and it was a job for careers services, universities and employers as well as government.
He said: ‘Education is the big motor for social mobility, we know that.’
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Mr Milburn accused some of the professions of ‘shutting out opportunity’.
He said it was important to have an independent reviewer so that ‘our feet are held to the fire to make sure that we make the changes necessary to boost social mobility over time’.
The Liberal Democrat leader said Mr Milburn had ‘trenchant criticisms to make’ about professions including medicine, journalism, law and politics, claiming that ‘too many of those professions are still, in effect, shutting out opportunity for youngsters who are under-represented in those professions’.
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