Nick Clegg has made social mobility — the aim that everyone should be able to make of their lives what they want regardless of where they come from — his driving mission as Deputy Prime Minister. It’s a big aim and one he knows will be difficult to achieve. His latest attempt to progress it is the Opening Doors Campaign, asking all businesses to sign up to ensure they ‘recruit fairly and openly, looking at people’s talent not their background’. In this week’s letter he explains why he thinks this is so important…
Every young person deserves a great start in life.
Nothing makes me angrier than seeing someone held back or held down just because of the circumstances of their birth. I passionately believe that the job of government is to enable everyone – and that means everyone – to get on in life.
So I was delighted this week to launch the Opening Doors Campaign to unlock opportunities like jobs, apprenticeships, and work experience for as many young people as possible. I’m asking every business to sign up to my Opening Doors pledge – making sure they recruit fairly and openly, looking at people’s talent not their background.
It shouldn’t be who you know, but what you know that counts. Already, we’ve signed up over 150 of the UK’s major organisations, employing hundreds of thousands of people, to ensure that in recruitment, talent comes first.
120 young people from around the country joined me on a bus tour round some of the biggest businesses in London; companies that are doing everything they can to hunt out talented young people from all walks of life and give them the chances they deserve. It was a real treat to spend the morning with them: their enthusiasm about the future and excitement about discovering what opportunities were available to them was completely contagious. It was a great way to start the day.
Former BBC Dragon James Caan also joined me to promote the campaign. You may have seen he has attracted some criticism for revealing that his two daughters are among his 800 staff. I don’t criticise any parent who wants to do the best for their children and help them get on in life: it’s the most natural instinct in the world. For me, the measure of success is what else you do to open doors for all those countless others who don’t have the right connections to get ahead. That’s what I’m asking businesses to focus on.
We all rely on businesses and entrepreneurs to create jobs and grow our economy. And job creation is one of our big success stories of the last three years: the private sector has taken on well over a million new people. I want us to celebrate that success, even as we work hard to repeat it.
So next week I’ll be launching our party’s jobs campaign, talking about the work we’ve done to create those million jobs, and the steps we must take to create a million more. From the next wave of the Regional Growth Fund to increased investment in our railways: we can create jobs, open up opportunities and increase prosperity for everyone – young and old alike.
If you run a business or know someone who does, you can find out more about the Opening Doors business compact. I’d love you to sign up.
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* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.