Yesterday The Guardian announced that one in four graduates start their working lives in London. No surprise really. As someone who has had a traditionally fairly London-centric career in PR and Communications, I meet graduates all the time who wouldn’t consider going anywhere else. We could also assume that as more students take up finance and technology degrees, that this pattern is set to continue.
Why is this? I know it’s one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Europe, if not the world, but with the rising cost of living in London, why do so many young people want to put this extra financial burden on themselves to live there?
It would be easy to say it’s to do with salaries, salaries that those regional cities such as Exeter or Manchester just can’t match. However, reports today suggest that money is not the reason. Yes, there is a slightly higher salary pool in the capital, but if you take into account the rental prices etc that lead to a London weighting, the wages are actually fairly comparable.
My feeling is it’s about confidence. The Government, businesses and local governments are failing to show younger people just how much the other regional hubs have to offer them.
When someone enters a job for the first time, they are no longer going into it expecting to work there for twenty or thirty years, it’s their first step on their exciting and ambitious career ladder. So when they are ready to move up, they want the options and businesses who are willing to make that career come to life. Graduates just don’t believe that’s possible outside of London. Yes, they can get a nice grad programme with a regional corporate, but then what? When they want to or need to move to progress, are there any other exciting businesses in the area waiting in the wings to help them get ahead?
Well actually yes there probably are, and these businesses probably have a lot more flexibility and opportunity for them to accelerate. However, we are just not putting that message out there. We are not giving people enough confidence that these cities can support exciting careers, and until we do, ‘success’ will continue to be benchmarked against careers that are born or bred in London.