The Education and Employers Taskforce charity hopes to sign up more than 100,000 voluntary speakers to their Inspiring the Future scheme.
Volunteers would address schoolchildren about the sort of jobs they do. The scheme would also give pupils access to the kinds of careers advice that many private schools already offer.
The scheme has the support of Karren Brady, star of TV’s The Apprentice, actress Joanna Lumley, and Gary Lee, head chef of The Ivy restaurant.
Making a connection
Nick Clegg, who is driving the coalition government’s efforts to improve social mobility, said: “Too many young people get the message that the best jobs are not for them.
“Inspiring the Future will give state school students the chance to see, hear and make a connection with someone in a career or job they might not have thought about.
“Today we’re calling on doctors, nurses, lawyers, builders, business people, civil servants, farmers, mechanics, engineers and other working people to give up just an hour of their time to talk to students in their local state school about how they got where they are today.”
The employers organisation, the CBI, is also supporting the scheme. Its president, Sir Roger Carr, said: “There is nothing more compelling for young people thinking about their future careers than meeting and speaking to inspirational people who do the jobs they are considering.”
Brian Lightman, president of the Association of School and College Leaders, the professional association representing secondary school and college leaders in Britain, said: “It is immensely important that (young people) have the chance to gain insights early on about different jobs and careers, especially when they cover areas outside their immediate experience.”