The Yorkshire graduates priced out in jobs hunt – Lauren McGaun

AS students across Yorkshire celebrate their 2021 graduations virtually, the job hunt ahead of them is long and hard.

What are the future prospects for university graduates?

A lack of job opportunities has left a large proportion of northern graduates feeling like they have to move to London to be successful.

Whilst this appeals to some, many from a working-class background have been priced out. Faced with a job search in their local area, there aren’t often the job opportunities necessary for young graduates to pursue their desired career, leaving them with months of unemployment.

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Ollie Klein, from Yorkshire, has recently graduated from the University of Birmingham, and found his job hunt mentally exhausting. “I think it was particularly hard this year during the pandemic when receiving feedback from assessment centres or interviews during lockdown as it could hurt your mental health,” he said.

What are the future job prospects for Yorkshire graduates?

Ollie also highlighted the need for more investment outside of London as graduates feel forced to relocate. “Everyone seems to go to London. I think there needs to be more investment outside of London for graduates to create a greater debate of where to work after university,” he added.

Libby Bridges, a recent university graduate from Scarborough, has even chosen to move to Aberdeen in search of work as her job hunt has been so difficult.

“I currently work in a corner shop and it drives me nuts because I have my mind set on other things. I decided to move to Aberdeen since I thought a city would offer so many more opportunities,” she highlighted.

Whilst there has been much discourse about levelling up, the only way such promises can really come to fruition is by investing in young people’s futures on a more local scale.

The fact that so many promising young graduates are forced out of their local area in search of work, yet often often struggling to meet the cost of living elsewhere, has left them stranded with little support.

New data from the Prince’s Trust shows that the cost of youth unemployment is forecast at almost £7bn for 2022, highlighting the immense scale of the economic crisis ahead.

A study from the Office for Students also found that the progression rate of students in North Yorkshire into employment or further study was only 75 per cent, a much lower proportion than areas like Medway and Reading at 86 per cent.

With prospects so uncertain for recent graduates, many are left feeling as though their degree was not worth either the time or investment. Despite recent calls for a tuition fee rebate for the duration of the pandemic, the Government and universities show little sign of budging on this.

Phoebe Raine, another university graduate, also highlighted the lack of opportunities in the creative industry. “It feels like a vicious cycle. I’m applying for jobs so I can get money but I don’t have the money to pay to get these jobs,” she said. “Every job in the creative sector seems to be in London.”

Whilst remote working has become more accepted throughout the pandemic, many young job seekers fear that as society opens up, office working in London will resume as normal again, inflicting both in-person interview costs and then the cost of relocation if they are accepted for work.

Yet many are uncomfortable even considering moving such a distance, not wanting to leave the support networks of their friends and family behind. The constant flurry of job failures, therefore, makes these big life decisions even harder for young professionals to weigh up.

In many ways, London has become a graduate metropolis, offering a starting ladder for England’s youth. Whilst this has had its benefits for those with initial financial support, the costs are unattainable for a large proportion of Yorkshire’s graduates.

Instead of investing in more and more financial firms in the capital, it is therefore only right that the Government and local councils prioritise higher investment in entry level jobs for young people locally.

I am due to graduate from the University of Nottingham next year and the fear of what lies ahead financially scares me. We are told a degree will open up an array of opportunities, instead many are now suffering the injustice of doors being slammed in their faces.

Lauren McGaun is a university student and freelance writer. She is also the Editor in Chief of Empoword Journalism.

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