"I work really hard to pursue my dream career and stability, but I wonder if I’m truly achieving anything."

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Aspiring to become a fully qualified lawyer, Freya has encountered obstacles that resonate with many of her young peers

Young people - in their late 20s and early 30s - in the UK encounter numerous obstacles as they strive to establish themselves in their chosen careers. From high rent prices to student debt, these challenges can significantly impact their ability to achieve stability and pursue their dreams.

As part of our campaign Project Peter Pan: Championing the lost generation - BirminghamWorld spoke to Freya Dearman, a 25-year-old paralegal at BT and a member of the Future Faces division of the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.

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Freya sheds light on the difficulties faced by aspiring lawyers and the impact of financial constraints on their professional journey.

Like countless others, Freya has been in rented accommodation since her university days. The prospect of buying her own property seems distant, obscured by towering student debt. Despite her best efforts to climb the housing ladder, the rungs remain just out of reach.

She says, “I myself have been in rented accommodation ever since uni, and definitely no prospective buying anywhere anytime soon. Huge amounts of student debt have not even been scratched yet.”

Balancing ambition and reality

The pursuit of a legal career has been marked by a sense of stagnation.

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Despite firing on all cylinders to qualify and advance, she grapples with the lack of stability. “I feel like I’m almost not achieving anything,” she admits. The pressure to succeed professionally while maintaining financial stability weighs heavily on her.

Like many others, seeking a career that offers stability, but the path is fraught with challenges.

Freya Dearman,  sheds light on the difficulties faced by aspiring lawyersFreya Dearman,  sheds light on the difficulties faced by aspiring lawyers
Freya Dearman, sheds light on the difficulties faced by aspiring lawyers | Freya Dearman

“What I’m struggling with at the minute is that I don’t have the money to pay for the further (law) qualification myself. I’m competing against thousands for a contract that might fund my studies,” she explains. The cost of the qualification, around £13,000, is a significant hurdle. “If I had that kind of money, I might have a house by now,”

Freya’s mother advised her to study law—a field perceived as offering stability. However, Freya acknowledges that stability remains elusive even within the legal profession. “It’s like other job roles,” she says. “Today, stability is hard to pursue.”

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“Wages aren’t keeping pace,” she adds. The dream of homeownership, once a beacon of stability, now feels like an unattainable mirage.

“Go to uni, go to uni, go to uni”

Universities were once hailed as the gateway to success, but their promises have now waned.

“Go to uni, go to uni, go to uni,” echoed the government and institutions, she said. Yet, many graduates emerged unprepared for the workforce. The rise of degree apprenticeships suggests an alternative path, but Freya notes, “You end up wherever you fall.”

Freya also points out the oversaturation of industries due to the rise of social media and the internet.

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“Now to get into, like a training contract and qualify for a legal career, you know, you're up against 1000s and 1000s, and 1000s of candidates, and it's like, you know, it feels almost impossible to get to the position you want to,” Freya says.

In previous generations, it was enough to hand in your CV and show potential. Today, the competition is fierce, and the path to landing a training contract feels almost impossible.

A call for change

Freya suggests to those in power that reducing the cost of student loans and providing more support for mental health could significantly impact young professionals’ lives. “Bringing down the rate of the loan would really help a lot of people,”

The pressures of the 20s and 30s—career, family, and financial security—loom like a persistent cloud.

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Freya’s story underscores the urgency felt by young professionals. The pressure to accomplish everything quickly—qualify, buy a home, start a family—weighs heavily.

While there are logical steps, such as planning for children, the relentless pace leaves little room for delay. The cost of everything pushes timelines back, leaving Freya and her fellow young people navigating a complex landscape in the job world.

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