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Nursing now a more desirable career than banking, say young jobseekers

  • Young people want “more than money” as helping people emerges as top career motivation
  • Over 80% think their parents and grandparents had it easier when it comes to finding a job
  • London’s young jobseekers are less confident now about securing their ideal job than in 2015

Nursing has replaced banking as one of the ten most desirable careers for London’s Generation Y (students age 16-18), according to new research from London First.

This marks a dramatic change in attitude from 2015 when banking was the fourth most desirable profession for London’s young jobseekers. It is also the first time that nursing has entered the top 10 list.

Nursing is not the only example of a change in attitude. Careers in policing have entered the top 10 list for the first time, while careers in software engineering have fallen from the list.

The more public-spirited approach to finding the right career is also reflected in young people’s motivations. Both ‘variety and interest in the job’ (35%) and ‘doing something that helps others’ (20%) are ahead of ‘salary’ (19%) in a survey of the things that young people prioritise when choosing their future careers.

While banking might have fallen from the top 10 list, interest in business remains strong, with accountancy, law, and business careers ranking second, third, and fifth respectively. Careers in areas that have previously been underrepresented have also shown a rise in desirability, with engineering making the list for the first time.

Young Londoners are increasingly worried about securing their ideal career however, and the vast majority of jobseekers (83%) believe it’s harder to find work now than when their parents and grandparents entered the job market, according to the research from London First.

The study revealed nearly half (45%) of London’s Generation Y (students age 16-18) think their parents found it easiest to find a good job, while over a third (38%) think that it was their grandparents’ generation. Only 17% of the capital’s school leavers think they have the easiest time finding work.

To help young people find employment and tackle some misconceptions, London First is hosting Skills London, the UK’s largest jobs and careers fair at the Excel Centre on 24th and 25th November. There will be more than 50,000 jobs and apprenticeships on offer from the country’s leading employers including Barclays, London Zoo, EY, Heathrow Airport, Teach First, BT and The National Theatre.

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of London First, said: “Enjoying work and making a difference is hugely important to young Londoners, but it’s concerning that so few are confident they’ll secure their ideal job. Business, education and Government must step up and work together to tackle the UK’s skills shortcomings. With 50,000 opportunities available over two days, Skills London brings hundreds of employers together with thousands of young people and will help get Londoners into the careers they dream of.”

John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow Airport and supporter of Skills London, said: “It’s never been more important for the business community to harness the talents of young people across London and the UK to ensure they build successful careers in a broad range of industries. Heathrow is backing up this aspiration with action with our plans to deliver 10,000 apprenticeships across the airport over the next 15 years. As the largest jobs & careers event in our capital city I commend the vital role Skills London has played over the last ten years in getting young people the jobs they aspire to.”

Top Ten Most Desirable Jobs for London’s Job Seekers


2015 2017
1 Doctor / Surgeon 1 Doctor / Surgeon
2 Teacher 2 Accountant
3 Lawyer 3 Lawyer
4 Banker 4 Nurse
5 Accountant 5 Business Career
6 Scientist 6 Police officer
7 Software Engineer 7 Scientist
8 Business Career 8 Teacher
9 Psychologist 9 Psychologist
10 Psychotherapist 10 Engineer




Notes to Editors

Results based on a survey of 825 Londoners aged between 16 and 18 years old, conducted in October 2017.

Skills London brings careers, jobs, training and the world of work to life. It will be more than simply a chance to hear about careers, it will be a chance to try new skills, take testing challenges and learn about the options open to young people in London. Full details of what’s on can be seen here:

Skills London is brought together by London First and delivered with Prospects. It is supported by the Mayor of London, National Careers Service and the Skills Funding Agency with headline partner Heathrow as well as EY, BT, London Councils, Tideway, Association of Colleges, London Ambitions, Lambeth College and CITB.

About Heathrow 

Heathrow is the UK’s only hub airport, home to more than 80 airlines connecting to more than 180 destinations. Every year Heathrow welcomes over 75 million passengers with a commitment to ‘making every journey better’.

Heathrow airport supports one in five local jobs (22%), making the airport one of the largest single employment sites in the country.

In 2016 Heathrow set up an independent Skills Taskforce, chaired by Lord Blunkett, to help inform its future education, employment and skills strategy and ensure Heathrow leaves a national legacy for future infrastructure projects.

About London First

London First is a business membership organisation, with the mission to make London the best place in the world for business. We’re focused on keeping our capital working for the whole of the UK.

We’ve galvanised the business community to bring pragmatic solutions to London’s challenges over the years.

We have established Think London, now part of London & Partners, to promote the capital worldwide and encourage foreign direct investment; been instrumental in creating the Mayor of London, pioneered Teach First, driven the campaign for Crossrail and, most recently, lobbied for government action on airport capacity, which has led to the government’s decision to build a new Heathrow runway. 

Now, we are working on solutions to what our business leaders see as the top priorities for our capital: talent, housing and transport.

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