General election: should young people leave Wales for work?

  • Author, Brendon Williams
  • Role, BBC news
  • Reporting from Anglesey

Conor Fagan is living the dream.

Although many of his friends chose to work in the trade, he wanted something different and at the age of 23 he has his own water sports business on a beach in Anglesey.

If he hadn’t chosen his own path, how easy would it be for him to find work in the area in the current economic climate?

He believes there are career opportunities in the region, but “there are clearly fewer opportunities here for people who want to make more money in the region.”

Conor believes that life on Anglesey means people have to ‘push a little harder’ to find better paid work, much more than those in larger towns and cities.

He added: “I’m very fortunate to have my own business here, so I can afford to live here.

“But many of my friends and colleagues, maybe not so much, and they have to move to find a better career path to continue living here.”

Image caption, Edward Altoft thinks he will probably have to look for work elsewhere

Edward Altoft, 18, is one of Conor’s part-time water sports instructors at Funsport in Rhosneigr.

But later this year the first voter will leave sixth form and study engineering at university in England.

When asked if he would like to return to work on Anglesey, he said: “100% yes. I would like to stay here for the rest of my life if I could. It’s perfect for me, I love it.

“But if there’s no job for me here – and I don’t think there really is for engineering at the moment – then I’m going to have to move in and come here on vacation.”

He said that work for people interested in trade and hospitality was good on the island, but because colleges push you to go into jobs in finance, engineering and things like that, it was super difficult to get those kinds of jobs here. find jobs. .

Fellow sixth-former Osian Buckland, 18, works part-time at Funsport.

He is about to leave sixth form to study sports science at university, and said people in the area would ‘struggle to get beyond’ hospitality or employment.

‘I would like to stay here forever, but there aren’t the right jobs. It would be much easier for many people to move to a city and find a job there.

“My goal is definitely to come back here and hopefully I can find something for me.”

Image caption, Nadine Moore thinks it will be difficult to find another job she wants to do

Graduate Nadine Moore, 28, is the manager of Funsport and loves her job but has friends from the area who have moved across the border to find work in England.

She said she would also worry if she were forced to look for work: “I think if I stay in the region I might struggle to pursue a career path that I would really like to do.

“I think for myself I would consider moving a little more inland, towards a city.”

Image caption, Becky Bevan says there are jobs, but do they pay enough for people to live on the island?

Just down the road from Funsport, Becky Bevan, 27, owner of Cafe Notos in Rhosneigr, said she wouldn’t want to look for a job now.

“I think it would be difficult, and I say that from a place where I’ve been there. Right after Covid I thought ‘what am I going to do?’

“I have a degree, I moved here – exactly in the position that a lot of twenty-somethings are in… what am I going to do for work?

Becky believes that the desire for well-paid work means that “a lot of young people are moving out, and I don’t know if many of them are necessarily coming back” because of high house prices.

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We can see that there is a steady trend of net migration from Anglesey for young people aged 15 to 29.

Ynys Mon also has the third lowest percentage of this age group of any parliamentary constituency in Wales.

Young or talented people leaving for better pay – or brain drain – is not unique to the island. Wales has a pattern of net migration of 15 to 29 year olds moving to other parts of the UK.

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Health and social care is the sector that employs the most people in Wales, followed by retail.

There is a similar picture at a local level in Anglesey, where proportionately more people than average are employed in the hospitality, construction and agricultural sectors.

However, there are fewer options in production.

Anglesey has one of the highest employment rates in Wales, with more than 77% of the population in work at the end of last year.

Huw Brassington, from Llandwrog, Gwynedd, is a senior mechanical engineer who himself moved from Wales to Cumbria to find a suitable job.

He now works with Tenet Consultants, which provides engineering designs for large-scale projects including nuclear and renewable energy sources.

The company recently opened an office in Anglesey, which he heads up, and he says the company is focused on providing well-paid jobs and encouraging skilled workers back to Wales.

The former teacher said: “I understand first-hand the challenges faced by young engineers in North Wales.

“I have witnessed many enthusiastic and talented students with limited opportunities. Despite their potential, only a handful have managed to secure an internship.

“I have kept in touch with many of my former students and am now trying to recruit them.

“Many excel in their careers, but often face long commutes or permanent relocation. For example, one of my best former students commutes from Bala to Bristol every week.”

Stopping the brain drain, he said, “requires a long-term strategy” to “start cultivating our engineers of the future.”

On the economy and jobs, the Welsh Liberal Democrats said they would offer “something different to the current status quo and that is a fair deal that will deliver a strong economy through investment, fair taxation and responsible management of public finances”.

The Welsh Conservatives said a strong economy “delivers strong public services” but added: “Labour has no plan to grow the Welsh economy, to get people into work, to increase wages for Welsh workers or to support Welsh businesses”.

Labor said: “The Welsh Labor Government is focused on protecting Welsh jobs, lifting people out of poverty and tackling the Tory-driven cost of living crisis” but said it was “compromised was by a Conservative government” at Westminster.

Plaid Cymru and Reform have been asked for comment.

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