Saturday, 17 October 2015

Do graduates have to move to London?

London is the place where dreams come true, right? Thousands of graduates each year flock to the city to find work, due to the ever-present fact that “there are no graduate jobs across the UK” anymore, and London is the only place to find a graduate-entry job that is perfect for you.

It’s a vicious cycle for graduates: most work experience and internships are unpaid, but almost all graduate jobs require some form of experience and unless your family can fund for you to work unpaid, it’s easy to become desperate for employment. Many people move to London in a last-ditch attempt to obtain a paid entry-level job. 

In fact, according to the Daily Mail, one in three 22 to 30 year olds with a degree move to London in order to find employment. Is it really necessary to pack up and move to the capital city as soon as you have your degree in your hands, like many graduates believe?


It’s not a definite answer, but for some, re-locating is by far the best option whereas for others, it is possible to stay near your family or your university city.

Some graduates might actually have a better chance finding a job outside of big cities. For example, hundreds of journalism graduates will dream of that Vogue editor position open to those who have just left university, and competition will be tough with only the very best getting a shot at an interview. There will be less applicants for a junior reporter role at a local newspaper near your town, which will provide sufficient experience to kick-start your career and you will probably have a better chance of actually getting the job.

One problem is that approximately 80% of jobs in the UK (including graduate entry roles) are located in Greater London. The city where only an eighth of the country reside has four in five jobs. This alone is enough to attract desperate graduates who need a relevant job to start their career. Most would choose to work in the field they spent up to five years studying and being forced to re-locate to London, than a random job with little to no relevance to their degree.

For some industries, London is really the only chance to get employment. Those wishing to work in TV or radio have much less chance obtaining their perfect graduate role anywhere expect the capital. For example, the BBC employs over 10,000 staff in London, but only around 1250 in the whole of Scotland. 

There are a lot of claims that it is easier to move up in companies and industries in towns and smaller cities. As companies tend to hire less staff in smaller places, it is easier to stand out and prove how great you are, and therefore easier to get promoted within your company in the future. That is not a deal breaker for recent graduates, however. The main priority is getting a foot on the career ladder, and future promotions are really something that are far in the future. There isn’t much point in worrying about career advancement unless you can secure that first job in the field you want to advance in, and for many people that simply is not possible in small areas.

Anyway, why wouldn’t one move to the capital? It’s the second best city in Europe for students, and with so many job prospects compared to the rest of the UK as well as the glamourous connotations of a young adult living in London (bumping into celebrities on the street and drinking cocktails in swanky metropolitan bars), why should a graduate even consider anywhere else?

London life is not always all it’s cracked up to be either: in simple terms, not everyone was made to live in such a huge, crowded city. The constant busyness and rushing does not suit everyone. Most London boroughs actually came at the bottom of the table in a recent survey about the happiest places to live in the UK. Many Londoners eventually leave as they age due to this way of life. Over a third of the UK population is over the age of 60, yet in London, only a sixth of their people are of the same age. It’s really not for everyone, and if the lifestyle does not suit you, life can soon become unhappy despite landing the job you always dreamed of.

If you’re sure that you want to live in a city, but London is a bit far away geographically or it’s a bit too busy for your liking, it is still possible to find a job elsewhere – some other UK cities are currently experiencing rises in graduate employment, including Manchester, Cardiff and Brighton.

If you wish to stay in Scotland, you may be in luck, as Edinburgh has now been coming second to London on numerous “where to move to after graduation” lists for a few years. It even tops London according to a few researchers. Aberdeen has also seen an increase in graduate jobs in the past couple of years.

Not all Scottish cities have been so lucky or successful. Glasgow has experienced a large drop in employment opportunities. In a 2014 economic survey focusing on job growth in 63 of the most major UK cities, Glasgow came a jaw-dropping 62nd.

So, some places are thriving and some places are not. The important thing when graduate job-hunting is to search in relevant places. Glasgow’s job rate may be on the decline, but for someone who aspires to work in television and broadcasting in Scotland, it is the best place to look for jobs due to the Scottish bases of most TV channels being located there. The reason London is where graduates flock to is because it has a wide range of jobs in almost every sector under the sun. 

The important thing to remember when on the graduate job search is that you must search intelligently, and in places where there are likely to be jobs relating to your degree. This may include London, but it is not always necessary to re-locate to the capital to commence your career.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you believe that London is the be all and end all of graduate success?

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