The Levelling Up Goals, established by the Purpose Coalition and co-chaired by Rt Hon Justine Greening and Seema Kennedy OBE, are a 14-point framework designed to tackle challenges facing the UK and improve social mobility.
Amazon will participate in the Levelling Up Goals’ Measurement Task Force and lead on Goal 3, ‘Positive Destinations Post-16’, which states that “every young person and adult should have the choice of a high quality route in education, employment or training.”
The focus of the framework is to unite businesses, civil society and policymakers in levelling up the nation with a clear set of objectives. The aim is to drive equality of opportunity for people in the UK as they reach key life stages, addressing specific barriers they face along their journey, such as access to healthcare provision and fair career progression.
As part of this, Amazon will develop its Levelling Up Impact Report, mapping the company’s activity against the goals, and setting out how it plans to go further in its contribution to levelling up the UK.
“We’re excited to be working with a data-led, digital-first business on the issue of tracking, metrics and measurement on factors such as equality of opportunity.”
John Boumphrey, UK Country Manager, Amazon, said: “We are committed to supporting and serving communities across the UK, which is why we are excited to be working with the Purpose Coalition on this project. The Levelling Up Goals provide an excellent framework for businesses to guide their activities and measure impact as they help people find their vocation and develop fulfilling, well-paid careers, no matter their background.”
We spoke to Rt Hon Justine Greening and Seema Kennedy OBE to find out more about the Purpose Coalition, the Levelling Up Goals and Amazon’s role.
Tell us about the Purpose Coalition and Levelling Up Goals.
JG: The Purpose Coalition was born out of the simple fact that too many people across the UK experience barriers to getting ahead in life. By removing barriers to access for opportunities, training, skills and careers, we have the power to transform lives regardless of background. The Coalition brings together Britain’s brightest and best business leaders to identify, measure and tackle those barriers, and ultimately to deliver better outcomes for colleagues, customers and communities.
SK: With the Purpose Coalition, we intend to set the standard on how we shape the ‘social’ aspect of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG). The range of organisations involved, including businesses like Amazon, The Adecco Group and UK Power Networks, plus NHS Trusts, a host of UK universities and beyond, shows the strength of feeling and sense of unity on these priorities.
Why is ‘Levelling Up’ a priority in the UK right now and what are the objectives?
JG: ‘Levelling Up’ is about the country’s long-term economic strategy, addressing both the impact of COVID-19 and the broader challenge of overcoming more long-term structural inequality that exists across regions. There is real change bubbling under the surface, and change can bring both risks and opportunities – so the Levelling Up Goals are designed to set a course for positive outcomes in the years ahead.
“A robust business is not just about profits and dividends – they are active community partners, stewards of the environment, and they set the tone on key issues like equality, diversity, and inclusion. ”
SK: We want to re-frame how we think about the social impact of an organisation and the role employers play within the economy. A robust business is not just about profits and dividends – they are active community partners, stewards of the environment, and they set the tone on key issues like equality, diversity, and inclusion.
The Purpose Coalition is underpinning the government’s wider work on ‘Levelling Up’ by bringing businesses like Amazon together with healthcare, education, government and much more to highlight those organisations’ influence, to find new methods of measuring success, and then maximising their impact.
JG: Our vision is to have every business in the UK signed up to the Levelling Up Goals and feeling like active citizens – not agreeing on every point, but speaking a common language.
How will Amazon support the Goals?
JG: We’re delighted to have Amazon participating on a number of levels. Firstly, by looking at the ‘Goal 3: Positive Destinations Post-16’ as part of our Measurement Task Force, we’re working together to ensure that every young person and adult has the choice of a high-quality route in education, employment or training.
The objective is to create a set of metrics and indicators which can be used by an organisation to focus their social impact efforts where help is most needed. Amazon have a deep commitment to skills and social mobility, and we’re excited to have them on board following their industry leading work on creating apprenticeship opportunities and their Career Choice programme which allows employees to ‘earn and learn’.
SK: Amazon’s role is to help develop a detailed picture of the challenges the UK faces in levelling up, offering thought leadership and feedback on the draft measures put together by the Measurement Taskforce at the Purpose Coalition.
Starting with the idea, ‘what gets measured gets done’, we’re playing a part in developing a stronger methodology to measure, track and improve equality of opportunity accurately.
Naturally, as a data-led business and a global leader in tech and innovation, Amazon can bring considerable expertise and industry knowledge to the table when it comes to metrics and measurement.
What do we mean by ‘Positive Destinations Post-16’?
JG: Britain has an opportunity to reset and re-focus for the greater good. To improve the jobs market and create greater choice, we must start by ensuring education investment helps talent to flow around the system. Individuals leaving school today are the innovators and employers of tomorrow, so we need to lay the groundwork for those young people to access positive outcomes.
SK: It’s really important that young people can see post-16 options beyond just the traditional university route. Vocational and on-the-job training, apprenticeships, internships, blended learning models, specialist technical certifications – these are all brilliant alternatives, and we can do more to create and communicate these opportunities.
Creating greater freedom of choice in the jobs market removes barriers to individuals succeeding on their own terms, rather than being held back by external factors like their place of birth or start in life. Amazon is well-placed to lead on positive destinations for school leavers because of its excellent work to date in these areas.
Justine and I have seen first-hand the work being undertaken in communities, upstream in schools through programmes like Amazon Future Engineer, in creating opportunities for ex-military personnel and their families, through charity partnerships, apprenticeships and technical training, and university bursaries. These are hugely powerful examples that showcase new ways to create opportunities for people.
Why is it important for an organisation like Amazon to support the Goals?
JG: Amazon is already showing its leadership with sector-leading education, training, and skills programmes. As a major employer, these schemes are creating opportunities for people from highly skilled technical roles through to lower skilled roles with rewarding career paths and growth opportunities.
Amazon is a highly visible, familiar business in the UK, especially for young people. Most people relate to Amazon as customers, but when we see young people meet the teams behind the technology and start to learn more about the innovation ‘under the hood’ of a business like Amazon, we can start to inspire new generations about what’s possible in their own careers.
SK: Amazon’s commitments on levelling up and economic opportunities are also hard-wired into the working culture – you simply cannot fake this level of commitment. When a company’s culture is permeated with a desire to be a force for good, that message rings loud and clear for organisations across the economy.
What can the Purpose Coalition and Amazon achieve by working together?
SK: What’s so exciting here is the scale and brand power of Amazon to make an outsized impact on these issues, leveraging not just its reach and size but also its expertise, brand name and consumer trust to support the Levelling Up Goals.
JG: In particular, we’re excited to be working with a data-led, digital-first business on the issue of tracking, metrics and measurement on factors such as equality of opportunity which have never been accurately measured before. When we can measure these factors, we can start to identify solutions and allocate resources accordingly. This workstream will give organisations of all shapes and sizes the hard data and justification they need to make strategic decisions.
For me personally, in my previous role as International Development Secretary working on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, I saw the hugely influential nature of that framework and I believe this kind of partnership can emulate that success.
The UK is a highly developed, economically prosperous nation. However, we always want to set the bar higher and delivering equality of opportunity is a cornerstone of that objective. The broad social change and development we’re talking about here are complex – but they become easier when everyone is pulling in the same direction. Amazon adding its considerable weight to the Purpose Coalition and Levelling Up Goals is already proving invaluable, and we’re excited to begin sharing the outcomes.