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Assertive and articulate – why private school pupils earn more

A new report has revealed the reasons why private school pupils earn more than their peers – and it seems to have little to do with academic qualifications and everything to do with ‘soft skills.’

The Sutton Trust undertook research which showed that the earnings gap between independent and state schools widens as they progress through employment.

The report says that this gap in earnings is because former pupils from private schools possess stronger soft skills such as assertiveness, as well as more confidence to ask for a pay rise or promotion.

The figures showed that private school pupils earn 14% more than their state school peers after just 3 years of employment. Indeed, the earnings gap shows after just six months of employment, with the average salary of a state-educated employee standing at £22,735, compared with £24,066 for a privately educated employee. As time goes on the gap increases until, after three years, the state-school worker earns an average of £31,586, compared to £36,036 for the privately-educated one.

The report noted that some of the discrepancy in earnings can be attributed to better academic achievement or the quality of the university attended, but  went on to note that “The remaining half of the initial pay difference could not be explained by any of the factors modelled in this analysis.”

The report instead asserted, “A plausible explanation is that non-academic skills such as articulacy or assertiveness could play an important role in accessing high-status jobs and career progression once in employment,” adding, “Non-academic skills can be associated with positive outcomes [for young people].”

In fact, it seems it is not just greater assertiveness and articulacy on the part of the private-educated pupils that stands them in good stead, but the report also argues that state school pupils “disproportionately lack self-confidence and awareness.”

Previous research has found that graduates from less-privileged backgrounds are also less likely to enter lucrative careers in professions like law and the financial services, but these new findings show an almost immediate effect on the earnings gap among those from different educational backgrounds. These new findings are also in line with past research that found that a privately educated person could expect to have earned £193,000 more than a state educated person by the age of 42.

The Sutton Trust reports that more needs to be done to redress the balance by helping less-privileged employees with mentoring and guidance.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation said, “We know that graduates from less privileged backgrounds are under-represented in the top professions but today’s research shows that they face disadvantage when it comes to pay progression too.”

He continued, “This new research shows us how vital is it that firms do more to improve social mobility through their recruitment practices. Enabling greater access to a wider pool of diverse talent will deliver real benefits for employers and employees alike.”

The Department of Education have already announced plans to develop “grit and resilience” while looking to build “character education.” These plans include an initiative announced by Nicky Morgan last year to have rugby coaches from 14 professional teams drafted into schools to help motivate disaffected students.

About Lynette Daly

Lynette is the publishing editor of Moving On magazine. Moving On is devoted to helping young people make good choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are delivered free to all schools, colleges and sixth forms in England and is also available online.

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