After finishing my degree in 2014 at a Yorkshire university, I returned to Manchester to live and work, while applying for jobs in London. Like many of my peers, I assumed that the capital was the place to begin my career. However, over the past year I have realised that there are more reasons to live and work in northern cities than just the price of beer.
Last year, 21 per cent of new graduates began their working lives in London. That’s 43,850 graduates (from their first degree) who entered the jobs market – twice as many as in the whole of the North West (22,510). Many of those graduates had previously lived and studied in London, but the largest proportion were newcomers with no prior links to the city. London is, of course, the largest urban contributor to the economy, so it is understandable that the ambitious, young and educated get pulled towards the bright lights of the capital.
However, the job prospects in London are not as bright as they may seem. Interestingly, graduates in London have a higher rate of unemployment than anywhere else in the country (8 per cent compared with an average of 6.3 per cent, according to Destinations Of Leavers From Higher Education 2013/14). Therefore, the assumption that London is the place for graduates to find a job is not entirely accurate. And this is before we even consider the issue of living costs and rent prices – a subject that promises to become only more prominent.
With this in mind, graduates should be turning their attention to the north of England. The graduate jobs market is accelerating in the northern cities, and hubs such as Manchester and Leeds have just as much to offer in terms of diversity of jobs as London does. Staying in your university city or moving into the region after university could be a fantastic career move.
These are exciting times for cities in the north of England – a case in point being Manchester devolution. Now is the time for young people to make their contribution to creating a great place to live and work. As a graduate, it is likely that you will feel the draw of London, but I urge you to consider living and working in one of the northern cities. These are places that have a lot to offer, and you have just as much to offer them.
Hannah Goldwyn Simpkins is the project manager of What Do Graduates Do? A Comprehensive Study Of Graduate Destinations at Prospects Manchester, which provides advice and links to the world of work for students and graduates. The 2015 edition will be published in October