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Justine Greening visits University to promote ‘Levelling Up’ agenda

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Rt Hon Justine Greening taking part in round-table discussion

Former education secretary says Bradford 'inspired' social mobility conversation

Former Education Secretary and founder of the Purpose Coalition the Rt Hon Justine Greening has visited the University of Bradford to hear about a number of ongoing social mobility projects.

She met staff and students and took part in a round-table discussion about various social mobility initiatives being undertaken by the University.

Her visit comes after the University’s Student Life Team received one of the first Levelling Up awards in July - the awards are made by Justine Greening’s Purpose Coalition, whose aim is to increase opportunities for disadvantaged groups.

During the visit, she met members of the Student Life Team, and also took part in a discussion.

Inspired by Bradford

Justine was responsible for launching Opportunity Areas when she was Education Secretary and Bradford was one of the first areas to benefit from the scheme, which targets extra funding to increase educational outcomes.

She said: “We started Opportunity Areas here in Bradford [because] this is a place where there's lots of talent but not necessarily opportunity. It was Bradford that inspired the thought of how you explain why we needed to improve social mobility.”

She also revealed that her first job as a 17-year-old growing up in Rotherham was working at supermarket chain Morrisons, adding: “Looking back, I learned about teamwork, getting up on time, and that getting a pay packet was pretty good, but at the time I didn’t understand the bigger picture and the opportunities that were available. That’s one of the reasons I’m doing this now - we need to improve education and outcomes, but that should not preclude people being able to take advantage of other opportunities.”

University Vice-Chancellor Professor Shirley Congdon said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Justine to the University. We have been working with her on the Purpose Coalition for some time and she wanted to come and see the work we were doing for herself.

“We’re passionate about improving social mobility. Our vision is a world of equality and opportunity where everyone wants to and can make a difference, and we want to be that place to make that difference.”

Rt Hon Justine Greening

Graduate Workforce Bradford

One of the projects discussed during the visit was Graduate Workforce Bradford, which works with employers and other organisations, including West Yorkshire Police, Bradford Council, Morrisons and others, to secure internships for students and graduates.

Joanne Beaumont, Associate Director Student, Academic & Information Services, said: “Graduate Workforce Brafdford is out-and-out a social mobility change project - it’s about engaging and working with students and graduates but also our community, employers and strategic partners. We know from looking at our data we have talent in Bradford that is not being utilised - we have unemployment but also underemployment, and this scheme seeks to address that.”

The University of Bradford was also recently ranked #1 in the country on the Social Mobility Index, a new way of ranking universities based on their ability to improve people’s social standing.

The University supports its graduates in many ways:-

  • Bradford Graduate and Internship Programme (12-week paid internships) and Graduate Workforce Bradford - working in partnership with regional employers to increase employment opportunities for under/unemployed BME graduates
  • 1:1 coaching and employability workshops, access to a graduate jobs portal, proactive follow-up and support in person and on-line
  • Over the last 12 months, the University’s Career and Employability Services has provided services to 529 graduates, and its SkillsHouse Community Employment Coach has engaged with 223 graduates to provide follow-up support
  • 74%* of its graduates have successfully progressed to employment 15 months after graduation, with 73% of those taking up highly-skilled professional and managerial roles (compared to 70% nationally)

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