Businesses and graduates in the North East have been taking part in a campaign to raise awareness of the range of career opportunities for university-leavers in the region.
As part of the Live, Work and Stay campaign, co-ordinated by the North East LEP, graduates have been talking about the reasons behind their decisions to build a career in the North East, and how businesses could help to encourage more people to stay here after graduation.
Ravneet Kaur is originally from India and works as Innovation Manager at the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult in Blyth. Ravneet studied for an MSc in International Marketing at Newcastle University before gaining certification in Renewable Energy, Enterprise and Management. “I didn’t originally plan to stay here but it’s such a warm place, the people are so nice and there are so many opportunities for me as a graduate in this sector. I couldn’t have lived anywhere else,” she said.
Talking about her role at Newcastle-based tech company Bede Gaming, Northumbria University Marketing Management graduate Eileen Wood said: “I didn’t know what to expect from my first job after university but I didn’t expect to have as much freedom and ownership. Here, if you have an idea you can run with it and it’s about what you can bring to the role, not how well you fit into something that’s already been defined. It’s an exciting place to be.”
As well as professional opportunities, lifestyle plays a significant part in graduates’ decisions to stay in the region after university, with Sunderland Software City’s Events Coordinator and Sunderland University graduate, Jordan Hewitt, saying: “There is better work life balance in the North East and a low cost of living. There are fantastic career opportunities in a range of different sectors too.”
So how can businesses play a part in encouraging more people to choose to live, work and stay here?
Fern Couchman works as Managing Consultant at Nigel Wright, securing her role shortly after graduating in in International Business Management with Mandarin Chinese from Newcastle University. “The North East is home to some big companies and we’re very strong in sectors like oil and gas, manufacturing, and sales and marketing. There’s a lot of investment going, which is creating some great opportunities. I just think we could be better at advertising them and making new graduates know about the strong career paths in the North East,” she said.
When it comes to letting students and graduates know about the benefits of looking for a job in the region, employers cited factors including clear career progression, training opportunities, work placements, and strong links with universities.
Employers also recognise the skills that graduates can bring to a role. “People who have recently moved out of education come with a fresh perspective. Graduates tend to come brimming with new ideas,” said Jill McKinney, Head of Skills and Training at Sunderland Software City, which organises regular skills meet-ups and runs Tech Talent – the North East’s largest tech-specific careers and opportunities fair.
What’s clear when talking to both graduates and employers is the passion for the place which they call home, with Albanian-born Danjela Toro, who works as iCart Project Engineer at Gateshead-based ADM Automation saying: “In my opinion it’s a great place to live and work, with lower house prices and cost of living than other places. Newcastle is awesome! I’m in love with this city!”
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