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RIBA backs government's social mobility plans

The RIBA has welcomed the Government’s response to Unleashing Aspiration, the Fair Access to the Professions report

A new body is to be set up in a bid to smash the ‘closed shop’ mentality within the profession, identified in the Government-commissioned report by former cabinet minister Alan Milburn published last summer (AJ 23.07.09).

Extra funding for poorer students and an online National Internship Service are also among measures unveiled by Business Minister Pat McFadden in response.

Milburn’s report warned elitism risked creating a ‘forgotten middle class’ generation, as well as wrecking the British economy, and he called on the professions to bring about a second wave of social mobility similar to that in the 1950s.

Almost all of its 88 recommendations are now being acted on as Labour puts social mobility at the heart of its general election message.

Ruth Reed, RIBA President said: ‘[The institute] is committed to ensuring the architecture profession is inclusive and representative and will be doing what it can to support this new forum.

‘The RIBA has put in place and will continue to develop a number of measures to help to address this objective.

She concluded: ‘Improvements in access to a career in architecture can include improving careers advice in schools, promoting mentoring schemes, offering work placement support and developing flexible study options. The HostPractice scheme, for example, is a good way to support graduates in an architect’s practice where they can get further experience hopefully leading to some form of employment.’

In response to the report, the RIBA has also unveiled a series of other proposals which it hopes will tackle the exclusion of those from low-income backgrounds.

Careers advice

· RIBA will promote more members to work as STEMNET ambassadors visiting inner city, lower income schools to discuss and teach architectural design

· RIBA will develop careers briefings for secondary schools

Career stage mentoring

·RIBA’s 2010 scoping study for career stage mentoring will offer secondary school pupils, students and emergent professionals engagement with trained mentors

Commissioning statistics and research

· RIBA visiting boards will refine their terms of reference for interrogating the demographic of schools of architecture

Strategies and support for work placement

· RIBA Chartered Practices will offer further structured work experience to secondary school pupils who cannot identify suitable placements

· RIBA will further promote the HostPractice scheme connecting architecture graduates who wish to undertake practical experience

Flexible study

· RIBA will develop viable learn and earn initiatives as a tax efficient model for employment

· RIBA is promoting courses to support those who have left the profession because of socio-economic reasons, family pressures or redundancy, to return to practice

· RIBA-registered Teaching Practices will broker collaborations between academia and practitioners to co-deliver elements of architectural education

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