Following on from our discussion on the merits or otherwise of meritocracy in our Education Archive – see David Goodhart’s ‘Who needs a degree?’ (Sept 4 2020) Nick Timothy returns to the subject in this week’s Telegraph.
The real problem, according to Timothy, is that our meritocracy is not fundamentally meritocratic.
“The Institute for Fiscal Studies says “inheritance is probably the most crucial factor in determining a person’s wealth since Victorian times”. The Sutton Trust, comparing the experiences of sons born in 1958 and in 1970, found that “in just one decade, Britain had become less mobile”. “
“At the top of the labour market, the professions remain beyond many working-class people. Only 6 per cent of doctors, 12 per cent of company chief executives, and 12 per cent of journalists come from working-class families.
Other studies show that the alumni of private schools, despite accounting for only 7 per cent of the population, dominate the bar, the judiciary, the senior ranks of the military, medicine and the senior civil service.”
Recent research in the US suggests that social mobility is at its highest where strong families and cohesive social communities exist. The exemplar appears to be Salt Lake City where rich and poor children attend the same schools and form the same social networks.
“Academic studies confirm a strong correlation between high social mobility and strong social trust, in the form of membership associations and clubs and an absence of racial and economic division. These factors have a correlation with social mobility stronger even than education spending, the quality of university education, and the local employment rate.
This is the paradox of meritocracy. If we want all our citizens to have the chance to achieve their true potential, and if we want to make sure that jobs go to the people best equipped to do them, we have to think beyond meritocracy itself: we must aim to restore a sense of the common good.”
The full article can be read here with a link to the original beneath it.