Caroline Adair (LTSB)

Back to list

Leadership Through Sport & Business - Advancing Social Mobility

At Leadership Through Sport & Business we’re delighted to announce our partnership with the Collab Group – and to have the opportunity here to explain why colleges are so central to our life-changing work.

LTSB is a social mobility charity that works with bright young people from disadvantaged backgrounds – our Young Leaders – to find them meaningful work with major firms. An intensive pre-apprenticeship programme prepares them for an unfamiliar working world, and we support them throughout Level 3 apprenticeship placements at firms like Santander, Grant Thornton, Rolls Royce and many others.

As all college staff know, there are bright young people, capable of progressing to the highest levels, but for whom major firms (and salaries) seem forever out of reach. Opportunity isn’t equally distributed. Whether it’s unnecessary degree-minimum criteria, alien work cultures, or intimidating recruitment procedures, our Young Leaders would be denied positions equal to their ambition and ability. Except we can shine a light on talent that disadvantage would keep in the dark.

Formal, accredited knowledge is a critical part of encouraging employers to take what they see as a risk – hiring someone from ‘non-traditional’ talent pools. This is why, during our pre-apprenticeship support, we include the internationally recognised Association of Accounting Technicians Level 2 qualification. The commitment and expertise of the colleges who deliver this course is vital.

Disadvantage can manifest in many ways, none conducive to study. While the evolution of online learning undoubtedly democratises access to knowledge for millions, not all are able to take advantage of this equally. A driven parent studying after the kids have gone to bed to improve their prospects is inspiring. But we must be realistic about whether a young person, even where they are in a supportive and loving home, can replicate this.

Many of our Young Leaders are from big families in small homes: peace is at a premium when your responsibilities extend to caring for young siblings or elderly relatives. Tech provision leaves much to be desired too. With smartphones increasingly affordable, the need for computers or laptops at home diminishes. Many of our families don’t have any other way to access the internet, but smartphones are no place to learn how to use spreadsheets. And no interface can beat a face, a person, a teacher: someone not only to guide you through the difficult bit, but encourage you in a way no book or app can do alone.

Committed teachers, a stable environment, and somewhere safe and quiet to study – the value of this cannot be overestimated. The qualifications our Young Leaders have gained with College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London and Newham College have been the foundation of their truly socially-mobile careers. Their journey from zero-hour jobs to meaningful employment gives them security, independence and makes them and their families rightly proud.

As we expand our work with Collab Group to include Birmingham Met too, we’re delighted to have partners equally committed to making a difference for those who need it most, in the way that has the most impact: face-to-face.

Caroline Adair Biography:

Caroline joined social mobility charity Leadership Through Sport & Business (LTSB) in 2013. She has been responsible for growing and developing the charity from an initial Intake of 15 young people with 1 football club, 1 education delivery partner and 6 employers in London in 2013 to an Intake of 98 young people with 5 football clubs, 4 education delivery partners (2 of which are members of the Collab Group) and over 70 employers in 2017 in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool.

Over the past 5 years Caroline has developed LTSB’s Young Leaders programme, built corporate pro bono relationships to provide enrichment and employability activities, developed guest speaker events, 3 annual conferences for young people, employer events and speed interviewing events for potential employers to meet apprentices and more.

She has campaigned for employers to pay a living wage and moved the majority to do so as she believes this has a major impact on social mobility.

Caroline has created a more robust commercial model and continues to drive the development of relationships with employers, funders, supporters and delivery partners. She believes LTSB provides a valuable recruitment service to employers, including the hard graft of selecting, developing and preparing a young person for the corporate working environment and providing pastoral support and personal and professional development throughout their apprenticeship and beyond.

Prior to joining LTSB in 2013, Caroline had 30 years experience building international businesses in recruitment and training, conference production and event management. She was awarded a 1st class honours BSc Psychology from Roehampton University in 2011.

Other News Articles


Making apprenticeships work for all

Publication of our latest position paper on apprenticeships.


Collab Group and Keepmoat Homes Announce Apprenticeship delivery and training partnership

Collab Group and Keepmoat Homes Announce Apprenticeship delivery and training partnership.


FE White Paper

Check out this series of essays from further education leaders on the 2019 General Election.


Gower College Swansea joins the Collab Group of Colleges

The Collab Group of Colleges is pleased to announce Gower College Swansea as its newest member!