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How can we encourage more graduates to live, work and stay in the North East?

North East employers and graduates are taking part in a campaign which aims to raise awareness of the range of career opportunities we have for graduates here in the North East.

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East LEP, explains more about the Live, Work and Stay campaign.

Graduates are essential to our businesses and the health of our regional economy. They’re our future business leaders, engineers and developers and they are the people who will build new enterprises and grow our existing businesses, years into the future. And with our North East universities producing graduates qualified in subjects ranging from Mechanical Engineering to Mandarin, what can we do to encourage as many of them as possible to use their skills in the region after graduation?

We’ve been speaking to both graduates and employers as part of our Live, Work and Stay campaign, asking them what makes the North East a great place for graduates and what businesses should be doing to encourage more young people to build their careers here.

For the graduates we spoke to, who worked in roles ranging from Engineer to Events Coordinator, a good quality of life and a lower cost of living combined with opportunities to develop their careers ranked highly in their reasons for choosing to live, work and stay in the North East. The North East’s friendly communities and stunning landscapes were also mentioned frequently, with graduates who are originally from other countries or areas of the UK saying they feel welcome and a part of the community here.

Opportunities a huge range of sectors, including our growing digital, energy and manufacturing sectors, play an important part, with graduates saying that they are attracted to organisations which provide them with the chance to develop new skills and work in varied, exciting roles which put them at the forefront of their industry.

Businesses who employ graduates recognise them as critical to their futures, bringing fresh ideas, valuable skills and new perspectives. When it comes to retaining graduate talent within the region, business leaders recognised the importance of ongoing development opportunities, flexible work practices and strengthening links with schools, colleges and universities to help young people understand the range of career paths we have here in the North East.

Internship programmes give students a taste of working life within different companies, while businesses across a range of sectors recognise the value in partnership working, coming together to create a strong identity and highlight clear career paths which graduates can follow.

Currently, just over 55% of graduates who study in the North East remain here to work, according to a report by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (Hecsu). This compares with 92% in Northern Ireland, the UK region which boasts the highest levels of graduate retention, and 39% in the East Midlands, the area with the lowest levels.

We know we can increase this percentage and, although there is still work to be done, it’s encouraging to hear from both graduates and employers who have a passion and belief in the North East as a great place to live, work and stay.

Visit www.nelep.co.uk/live-work-and-stay and follow the #LiveWorkandStay hashtag to see what employers including Sunderland Software City, Bede Gaming and ORE Catapult have to say about graduate retention, and hear from graduates working in roles ranging from Managing Consultant at Nigel Wright through to Project Engineer at Fabricom Offshore Services and find out what made them decide to live, work and stay in the North East.