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One million young workers set to leave London before turning 33

UK, London, silhouette of unrecognisable business people walking to work via London Bridge with view of Tower Bridge behind
Two in five millennials expect to move out of the capital before they turn 33. (Getty)

The number of young people leaving London is increasing, often because young workers have given up hope of ever owning a house in the capital, new research suggests.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that the number of workers in their 20s leaving London since 2017 rose by 26%, with over 100,000 leaving in 2018 alone.

There has also been a 49% increase in those in their 30s leaving the capital over the last five years.

More than one million professionals have left London since 2014, with just 900,000 coming in, according to analysis of ONS data by job board Totaljobs and a survey of 2,000 Londoners.

This is a net loss of 88 workers every day, with the biggest shortfall down to workers aged between 25 and 34.

The majority (54%) of young people said they are moving out of London because they have given up hope of ever being able to buy a house in the capital and 30% pointed to the city’s high living costs as a factor.

Two in five (43%) people surveyed expect to move out of the capital before they turn 33 — with a quarter of 25- to 34-year-olds currently planning their move. This could mean a further one million workers leaving London in the coming years, Totaljobs claim.

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Some 62% of London businesses have reported recruitment challenges, and the new figures suggest that holding onto talent may become a high priority for employers.

There has been a sharp rise in the number of workers moving to cities outside of London in the last five years — with Birmingham at the top of the list, followed by Bristol and Manchester, according to ONS data.

Geraint Johnes, professor of economics at Lancaster University, said: “This analysis has revealed a large increase in net migration out of London among those in their 30s and suggests that this trend is likely to accelerate into the future with 41% of 25-34 year olds looking to move out of the capital in the next six years.

“Reducing the cost of living is a major factor, while being able to afford to buy property and raise a family are major considerations in prompting a move.

“Unless a slowing housing market puts a brake on this trend, it’s likely to have important consequences for business.

“As young people add years of work experience to the stock of skills with which they came into the labour market, they become increasingly productive and climb the ladder, but as they leave, London businesses may find it harder to retain experienced staff and recruit into the more senior managerial roles.”

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Jon Wilson, CEO at Totaljobs, said: “Our research shows the challenge London’s employers face in holding onto some of their staff, and with widely reported skills shortages, it’s vital that they do so.

“While some factors may be out of their control, businesses focused on retaining talent can consider how they can encourage movers to settle within a commutable distance – be it through offering season ticket loans, more flexible working hours or the opportunity to work remotely.

“For those who can’t be swayed, employers can offset the impact on their business through clear succession plans. Investing in training and mentorship programmes can ensure those leaving pass on their knowledge and expertise to more junior colleagues.

“However, this migration trend also presents a real opportunity for employers based outside of the capital to attract highly skilled and experienced people looking to relocate. With local job opportunities being the deciding factor for a quarter of movers, regional employers should look at the most common reasons people are looking to move out of the capital to create enticing relocation packages.”