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Is London still the UK’s ‘brain drain’ of young talent?

by Georgina Palmiero August 14, 2015

​London’s size and scale outguns every other city in the UK...

To put things into context - London accounts for roughly a quarter of the UK’s economic output, and one-fifth of the country’s jobs and businesses. However, there’s been somewhat of a backlash in recent years due to what has become popularly referred to as the ‘brain drain’. This was a hot topic at the beginning of 2014 – the suggestion that the capital draws top young talent away from other UK cities, inhibiting growth in localised economies.

What are the trends?

The facts and figures certainly show the persistent trend for graduates making the move to London to kick-start their careers. According to the recent High Fliers report, more than four-fifths of UK employers are offering vacancies for London starting in 2015.

Why’s young talent lured to London?

  • Most young people have spent 18 years of their childhood in the same city, and are ready for a new environment that offers independence and variety

  • London offers a huge range of career opportunities - graduate schemes tend to be located in London – meaning that the most talented youngsters in the UK are most likely to seek work in the capital.

  • London’s a hot-pot of financial giants and creative media groups, with a renowned cultural presence and a vibrant nightlife – it’s also a city of free museums and spectacular parks.

  • London is innovative , and this has a lot to do with its resources – the city’s tech firms received more than £436 million of VC funding during the first three months of 2015.

  • It’s also where the majority of people’s friends from university relocate, particularly those from top universities… and as more and more move to the capital it becomes self perpetuating - everyone moves to London, because everyone else is moving to London.

But there’s also a lot to be said for the growing success of regional cities – in 2015 it has become clear that it’s not all doom and gloom for everywhere without a London postcode.

Whilst the capital is an ever-attractive option for the first career move, experts are now saying that the booming economies of the UK’s regional cities are attracting established professionals, who may not have considered a career outside London a decade ago. Birmingham, for example, is thriving, as research by the Office for National Statistics showed more workers leave the capital for here than anywhere else.

The top tech cities…

According to a report published recently by Tech Cities Job Watch, the battle for tech talent in the UK is a lot more far-reaching than the South East.

Bristol, Birmingham, Cambridge and Glasgow were named as the UK’s top 'tech cities', where digital expertise and innovation are becoming ever-more desirable. These cities are abound with small firms with heaps of potential, who – although they can’t provide the salaries to compete with London – can certainly offer challenges and heaps of opportunity for progression.

It's fair to say that London will continue to attract young talent in its droves - but it can't harm to be open to opportunities elsewhere.

Want to make your next career move in the capital, or eager to move out to a thriving tech city? Get in touch and we can help guide the way.

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