What is it like to be a young professional in Wales?

I’m going to take a break from the normal ‘women in STEM’ blog content to talk about something that has been on my mind for a really long time.  I want to talk about what it’s like to be a young professional in Wales, because as someone who is trying to shape a career, I face a dichotomy between wanting to have easy access to the routes to success and a passion to keep talent in Wales.

Wales doesn’t lack talent, we nurture it and built it (and then it leaves via the Severn Bridge and never comes back again).

There is a predictable career timeline for young people in Wales, as we grow up here, are educated here, and then move away for work. Because, as a country Wales struggles economical, with over a quarter of the Welsh population living in poverty and Wales has one of the highest youth employment rates in the UK. Shaping your career here is hard, and myself and my friends have often worked in jobs outside of our field whilst we wait around for relevant employment. When searching, there are often perfectly suitable jobs, or even amazing opportunities, in science communications, but they are all based in London and I categorically refuse to move to London.

This utter denial of London life is only slightly the result of a distain for the cramped and dusty city, and is mostly because, as a Welsh person, I want talent to be kept in (and drawn into) Wales. Building a career in Wales can be a bit of a battle, especially if you in a niche area like science communication and have the aspiration to become a science TV presenter; it would be easier to gather up my things and move to London where the opportunities are fruitful. But I really don’t want to be a part of the perpetual cycle of talent leaving Wales and talent seldom being attracted.

It’s not a ground-breaking statement to say that everything happens in London, and this certainly is true for my industry. My ultimate career goal is to present and work on science TV programmes, and a sizable proportion of science magazines, production companies and STEM organisations are based in and around London. Because of this, it would make sense to move to London as this would grant me access to a greater number of opportunities, but with a potent cocktail of a stubborn nature and a desire to stay in Wales, I have written off this option – at least for now.

However, I fear that this passion to keep working in Wales has an expiration date, especially will the potential ramifications of Brexit on the Welsh labour market. If building a career in Wales or keeping talent in Wales was hard before Brexit, I don’t know what it will be like when our economy isn’t supported by European funding. (So please don’t blame me if you see me ignoring my moral compass and moving to London in a few years’ time.)

I suppose this blogpost doesn’t achieve anything, it is merely a rant about the difficult career choices young people face in Wales. Because as I continue furthering my career in science communication, I feel that I am not only having to hurdle barriers facing women in science, but I feel like I have to ultimately face up to whether I want to sacrifice my morals and my passion for keeping talent in Wales to get there.

(If you weren’t a fan of this non-STEMinist talk, don’t worry, normal broadcasting will now resume.)

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Author: Alice Gray

STEM-inist blogger hoping to raise awareness for the issues facing women in science, technology, engineering and maths.

1 thought on “What is it like to be a young professional in Wales?”

  1. I have to say I admire your determination and respect your choice to stay in Wales.

    As a Scotsman, I faced a similar dilemma, I got the opportunity to develop a videography department for a UK retailer and whilst I don’t live in London, I did leave my homeland and moved to Bristol to follow the work.

    Of course as you say there’s no lack of talent outside of the London postcodes but that’s where the jobs tend to end up.

    I hope you can stay in Wales and help spread the talent across our country, with brexit looming we may need to work hard to make our opportunities.

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