Some of the biggest names in business and finance are gathering in Canary Wharf this week to search for talented undergraduates from London state school backgrounds.
Every year, graduate recruiters visit universities across the country searching for the best and brightest future recruits. But, because of limited time and resources, most employers only visit the very top institutions meaning students outside of the elite Russell Group often miss out on hearing about opportunities and meeting recruiters.
But this week access to the traditional ‘Milk Round’ is being opened out to young Londoners from a variety of backgrounds. The City Careers Conference, hosted by international law firm Clifford Chance, will see graduate recruiters from top employers meeting more than 150 undergraduates who previously studied at state schools across the capital’s most disadvantaged boroughs.
From banking giants HSBC and J.P. Morgan to insurance names Marsh and Lloyd’s of London, there will be a variety of companies and institutions on hand promoting their opportunities to the best and brightest London has to offer.
Laura Yeates, Graduate Recruitment & Development Manager at Clifford Chance, said: "We’re thrilled to be welcoming so many talented young people to our office in Canary Wharf. As a firm we are committed to recruiting the best future lawyers, and tapping into hidden pools of talent is incredibly exciting. We are working tirelessly to break down the perceived barriers to the profession and we are delighted to be part of the City Careers Conference."
Laura King, Global Head of HR and Talent, adds: “Ensuring that we continuously seek talent from the widest possible pools is vital to the firm and better for our clients.”
The event is being organised by the Brokerage Citylink, a charity working to ensure that young people from disadvantaged areas of London can access the wealth and opportunity offered by the financial districts. The candidates at the event have all worked with the charity at least since finishing Sixth Form.
Graham Hopgood, Recruitment Manager at the Brokerage, said that the event is not just benefitting the students: “This event is all about employers reaching out to high calibre candidates that would likely not have considered applying to them before, helping their recruitment become more competitive, more diverse and more credible.”
Recent higher education figures released by the government show that access to the best universities are still dominated by students from independent schools, with just 24% of state school students gaining a place at institutions ranked among the top third compared to 64% of those from independent schools.
Research from the Sutton Trust also shows that state school students are at a disadvantage in accessing top professional careers. Despite representing only 7% of the population, independently-educated individuals account for 57% of Financial Services professionals and 63% of Law professionals, with similar figures across other high profile professions.
Graham Hopgood said: “We work with hundreds of fantastic young Londoners every year but find that, despite having the talent and commitment, a disappointing number are able to successfully make the transition into professional careers after graduating. Often this is because they lack the close support network of encouragement, knowledge and contacts enjoyed by young people from more advantaged backgrounds. The City Careers Conference is a big part of the wider work we do to level the playing field and ensure that all young people can compete, whatever their background.”