Young graduates reluctant to move for new jobs, says thinktank


Resolution Foundation says there has been a marked fall in UK labour mobility since the turn of the millennium.

The unwillingness of young graduates to move from their home regions is behind a marked drop in Britain’s labour mobility since the turn of the millennium, a thinktank has said, reports The Guardian.

A study by the Resolution Foundation showed that the share of the population prepared to switch both region and employer in 2016 had fallen from 0.8 per cent to 0.6 per cent.

The thinktank said the decline was only partly the result of the deep financial and economic crisis of 2007-09 and came despite a number of factors – an increase in renting, a rise in the number of graduates and higher immigration – that would tend to make the country more mobile.

It said the evidence was that the decline was being driven by the young, particularly young graduates, many of whom were giving up the chance of getting a pay rise by their reluctance to move. A person under 30 who moves job and employer secured an 11 per cent boost to their wages, the Resolution Foundation said.

The stay-at-home tendency among graduates coincided with an increase in the proportion of those with degrees doing non-graduate jobs and, according to the thinktank, was one possible explanation for Britain’s dismal pay and productivity record over the past decade.

In 2001, when 31 per cent of graduates were doing jobs for which they were overqualified – 1.8 per cent of people with degrees moved region and employer. By 2016, only 1 per cent of graduates moved region and employer, and 35.6 per cent were doing non-graduate jobs.

It said international migrants accounted for an increasing proportion of UK regional job-to-job moves – up from 8 per cent to 24 per cent over the past two decades – and warned the government it needed to be alive to the impact of Brexit on labour mobility.

Stephen Clarke, a policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “The Noman Tebbit notion that the unemployed should be getting on their bikes and travelling around looking for work is obviously outdated, but our thinking on job mobility in the UK has not really evolved much beyond it. With only 10 per cent of those moving regions for jobs previously unemployed, the focus needs to be on why there has been a fall in the share of people already in work moving region and employer, a move that leaves the typical earner £2,000 better off.

“Job mobility matters not just for the individual getting the pay rise but to our economy as a whole. On a basic level that’s about avoiding labour shortages, but more importantly in an economy nearing full employment, ensuring the talent and potential of individuals and firms doesn’t go to waste is essential to boosting productivity.

“But not everyone can up sticks. Alongside encouraging more mobility among the minority of in-work people – such as young people and graduates – for whom it is often more feasible to move, we should be improving thinking on how people can move into jobs they are qualified for without uprooting their family’s lives. That involves thinking not just about progression and employment, but housing and transport too.”