The high cost of living in the nation’s capital is making university leavers look elsewhere for employment.

One of the Largest consultancy firms in the UK, PwC, who are one of the biggest employers of graduates in the country revealed recently that it expects to hire more university and school leavers outside the capital because of concerns about the city’s high living costs and student debts.

University leavers are turning their back on London, the chairman of one of the UK’s biggest graduate employers has been reported as saying.

Kevin Ellis, the firm’s chairman,said he had noticed graduates were rebuffing London when he gave a talk to 400 university students in Nottingham last year. Just a third said they wanted to work in the city when they finished their course.

“Every hand in that room would have been up to say ‘London’ five years ago,” Ellis is reported as saying. “They said that with [their levels of] debt and London’s costs, why go to London?”

In the past, the big four companies who employ around 20,000 people have employed 60% of their graduate intake in London.  This year, about 60% of their graduate intake have taken up posts outside the capital.

The head of higher education intelligence at Prospects, said that their experience was similar. Their data showed that while London remained a popular destination, thanks to its size, the majority of those taking up jobs in the capital already hailed from the city.

“All of this means that a lot of students have no interest in moving to London and putting all your graduate recruitment efforts there means that you will inevitably miss talent. PwC is making a rational choice that to get the best people, they need to stop expecting the most talented young people in Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Belfast to come to them in London. They have no need to go.”

Sophie Phillipson, co-founder of student and graduate support site HelloGrads, added: “The risk of moving to London is high when work can be found elsewhere. To attract the best graduate talent, rather than the most privileged, businesses will need to adapt. Offering significantly better wages for London workers, hiring outside the capital and supporting virtual working practices is just the start.”

Research carried out in January showed graduate recruitment had fallen by 5% in 2017, the first annual fall in five years.

Hiring of university leavers by the UK’s 100 leading graduate employers had been expected to rise last year. However, the report noted uncertainty surrounding Brexit had knocked businesses’ confidence.

Charles Hipps, CEO and founder of recruitment tech platform Oleeo, said his own company’s research indicated tough competition for roles among university leavers, which could be pushing candidates to look for roles beyond the M25.

“Students are keeping more open minds as to the location of where they start their careers, and the appeal of being located in a glamorous central London office has fallen,” Hipps added.

Analysis suggests a number of industries in London were facing steep skills shortages. In particular, in areas such as finance professionals, director-level employees, chief executives and secondary school teachers, demand far exceeded supply.

Meanwhile, figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) yesterday revealed one in eight, 12%, of people aged between 22 and 29 without a degree or equivalent qualification worked in a role traditionally earmarked for university leavers.  By comparison, 54% of degree holders in the same age group had a graduate role.