The right track… for some

Ella Rhodes reports.

A new Nuffield Trust report ‘The right track’, commissioned and supported by the BPS and written by William Palmer, Laura Schlepper, Nina Hemmings and Nadia Crellin, explores the career routes of psychologists. Although data on the socioeconomic status of psychology students and graduates is not always complete, and varies between different psychology careers, the report uncovers some interesting relationships between socioeconomic status and psychology education and careers.

  • Those who come from areas which have the highest rates of higher education participation have an attrition rate at Psychology undergraduate level of 3.4 per cent compared with 4.7 per cent of those from areas with the lowest participation in higher education.
  • There were twice as many applications to psychology undergraduate degrees from people living in the fifth of local areas with the highest youth participation in higher education, compared with those in the fifth of areas with the lowest participation.
  • People with the lowest socioeconomic status are less likely to apply to clinical psychology doctorates, and those who do are less likely to be accepted onto courses.
  • The authors pointed out that around 63 per cent of entry-level positions require previous experience – which could stand in the way of people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds entering these roles.
  • It also pointed to research by the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health which highlighted that honorary assistant psychology posts, and a practice of keeping assistant psychology vacancies open for less than a day, may exclude those who do not have family support and be ‘opportunistic for those with time to job search’.
  • The authors also suggested that, while it has been previously established that there are fewer applications to clinical psychology from lower socioeconomic groups, this rate could be even lower for areas including counselling or health psychology, where postgraduate qualifications are required and are often self-funded.

Read the report at

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