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The myth of millennial job-hopping

PUBLISHED: 11:32 13 June 2019

Some young people are trapped by high rents - others have returned to a better life in their home towns Picture: GERRY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Some young people are trapped by high rents - others have returned to a better life in their home towns Picture: GERRY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Archant

New research shows that common stereotypes of Millennial working habits are largely untrue, reports Emily Cashen.

What impact are high rents having on Millennials? Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTOWhat impact are high rents having on Millennials? Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Millennials - what are we like?

We have no job loyalty anymore, do we? In our quest for personal fulfilment at work, we jump ship every six months, hopping from post to post in search of greener pastures.

We have no real roots either - or so the headlines would have us believe - and we are happy to up sticks at the drop of the hat, relocating to cities across the country if the right job offer comes calling. We're a flighty bunch, aren't we?

These are some of the most common criticisms levelled at Millennials - those of us aged between 23 and 38 - often accompanied by an eye-roll and a derisive shake of the head.

Emily CashenEmily Cashen

Not only are we frittering away our life savings on indulgent avocado brunches, we never stay put at our jobs for long enough, meaning that we won't progress in our careers.

Like many of the stereotypes about Millennials, however, this one isn't quite accurate.

According to new research carried out by the Resolution Foundation think tank, young people are actually changing jobs less frequently compared with twenty years ago, and are far less likely to relocate to a new city in order to start a new job.

In years gone by, it was common for young people to head to the country's big cities in search of higher wages and better job opportunities, but rising rents in these urban centres are keeping Millennials from doing the same.

Young people are often accused of moving from job to job - but the tide is turning and more are staying longer in their posts Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTOYoung people are often accused of moving from job to job - but the tide is turning and more are staying longer in their posts Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

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Sky-high rents in places such as London and Dublin often wipe out any financial gain of moving there, leaving many Millennials living and working in lower-income towns. Back in 1997, 30,000 young people relocated to start a new job, but this figure fell to 18,000 last year - and rent hikes are largely to blame.

This story certainly rings true for me. When I graduated from university, I managed to secure myself a good job in London, and like many of my classmates, I packed my bags and headed off to the Big Smoke.

Now, I had anticipated that rents would indeed be exorbitant in the capital, but the realities of the city's rental market still came as something of a shock when I arrived.

Speaking with others in the same boat as me, it seemed that young professionals had essentially two options for housing in London: spend half of their monthly wages on a so-called 'studio flat' (often consisting of a bed creatively wedged into a kitchenette), or enter into a cramped houseshare with a group of other overworked members of 'generation rent'.

Although I enjoyed my job, I ended up feeling trapped by these limited living options, and realised that I might be happier if I moved back to my hometown. So, that's where I have found myself, and two years on, I can say it was absolutely the right decision.

If you take a look at the reporting on this new data - from publications such as The Times and The Guardian among others - the headlines tend to announce that high city rents are "trapping" young people and "forcing" them to live in small towns.

The fact that housing acts as such a barrier to mobility is indeed a travesty, and high rents shouldn't keep young people from pursuing exciting career opportunities.

But to say that young people are "trapped" in their hometowns might not be quite accurate either - it was only after moving away from London that I felt free.

Without the burden of the capital's costly rents (the highest in Europe and the fourth highest in the world), I felt that a real weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

And with more young people now choosing to stay put in smaller towns, perhaps we will see a shift in our economy towards a more decentralised, less London-centric model.

But wouldn't it be great if young people didn't have to choose? If they didn't have to sacrifice their career ambitions for better living conditions, or vice-versa? Millennials - we're just so entitled, aren't we?

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