UON partners with Rt Hon Justine Greening to tackle COVID-19 national recovery

Date 2.02.2021

Former Education Secretary Justine Greening is working with the University of Northampton to protect opportunities and boost social mobility.

The partnership comes as research shows 80% of people are concerned that there will be fewer available job opportunities for young people nationwide in the aftermath of COVID-19.*

On Thursday 4 February, the University will sign the Social Mobility Pledge, a campaign and coalition businesses and universities committed to being a force for good by putting social mobility at the heart of their purpose.

By signing the Pledge, businesses and universities commit to enhancing opportunities by working with local schools; offering training and apprenticeships; and by adopting fair recruitment policies.

More than 500 organisations representing over seven million people have signed the Social Mobility Pledge. This includes over 50 universities with more than two million students represented.

The partnership between Justine Greening and the University of Northampton will include the development of an Opportunity Action Plan to level up Britain in the wake of COVID-19.

The plan will share the University of Northampton’s work to level up opportunities within its organisation and its local communities. The plan will also set out how the organisation plans to go further and play its role in Britain’s national recovery from COVID-19 amid warnings of a rise in youth unemployment.

University of Northampton Vice Chancellor Professor Nick Petford said: “We face urgent challenges as a society, and now the additional pressures resulting from the pandemic requires a unified response that will benefit those who need it most.

“As a university dedicated to social innovation and purpose-led change, we have a vital role to play in addressing these agendas – and we are proud to demonstrate our commitment by signing the Social Mobility Pledge.”

Rotherham-born Ms Greening herself benefited from social mobility, becoming the first Secretary of State for Education to have gone to a comprehensive school and local FE college.

She co-founded the Social Mobility Pledge in 2018 alongside UK entrepreneur and social mobility philanthropist, David Harrison, to tackle Britain’s widespread lack of social mobility.

So far more than 500 businesses and universities, representing over seven million employees and students, have signed the Social Mobility Pledge.

Justine Greening said: “Many young people are seeing their life prospects drastically downgraded, with jobs and job offers disappearing. Meanwhile, massive demand for reskilling and career shifting support is building up.

“Well defined purpose together with a strong culture and leadership have marked out those organisations which have taken the right decisions in response to the crisis, from those which have not. The challenge now, and one that the University of Northampton has stepped up to, is for Britain’s businesses and universities to play their role in boosting opportunity and social mobility as part of our national recovery.

“I’m looking forward to working with the University of Northampton on their Opportunity Action Plan. They are committed to making a difference and levelling up Britain. I hope many others will follow their example.”


*Based on a nationally representative sample of 2,000 working adults, conducted by the Social Mobility Pledge.