Graduates hired by some of Britain’s biggest employers are shunning London in favour of better “lifestyle considerations” offered by regional cities.
Professional services giants including Accenture, EY, Deloitte and PwC, say the number of graduates requesting positions outside the capital has soared.
Kevin Ellis, the boss of Britain’s largest graduate employer, PwC, told City A.M. there has been “a trend that regional locations are competing more and more for graduate jobs”.
"We're seeing a growing interest in regional roles driven by greater awareness of the opportunities available, lifestyle considerations and the increased availability of technology, which is location agnostic."
Deloitte head of student recruitment Georgia Greer said: “Whilst our London roles continue to be popular, we are also seeing an increasing number of students being hired into regional offices as they recognise the wide variety of opportunities outside of the capital.”
Regional hiring has also grown at consulting giant Accenture. In 2015, three per cent the intake for the firm’s core intake programme – the analyst consulting group – came from the regions. This doubled to six per cent in 2016 and rose to 11 per cent in 2017.
Big Four accountant EY said the proportion of London placements shrunk from 61 per cent in 2016 to 52 per cent in 2017.
Rival KPMG said it was also looking to expand its regional offering, but the firm’s head of graduate recruitment Linda Emery added: “It would appear that demand in London has remained at the same level as previous years, and our London placements are often the first to be filled.”
PwC chairman Ellis said: “The UK’s future prosperity will rely on a strong capital with strong regional cities so it’s important that organisations create highly-skilled roles right across the country and that students know that these roles exist."
The capital's high cost of living is driving graduates to consider starting their careers elsewhere. Naomi Smith, executive director of campaigns at business group London First said: “With average rents across London now soaring past £1,700 per calendar month, it’s no wonder that the capital’s employers are struggling to recruit and retain talent. Last year, 30,000 more millennials left than came to London and housing costs are the driving factor."
Some firms are taking steps to mitigate London's sky-high housing costs, with nearly 100 of Deloitte’s graduates having taken up a special offering to rent a flat in the former Olympic village. The company's “additional housing support” enables staff to bypass the need for credit checks, references or a deposit.
Tom Hadley, director of policy at the Recruitment and Employment Federation said: “As individuals’ wages are being squeezed and the cost of living goes up in the capital, graduates are seeing working outside of London as a good option."