Issue date: 24 March 2003

ISSUE DATE: 24/03/03

Graduates are good news for the economy, but the South West needs to do more to retain and attract the best to work in the region, delegates at an event hosted by the University of the West of England on 26 March 2003 will be told. The information is contained in a report of a survey of over 4000 final year students in the region, commissioned by HERDA-SW, the Higher Education Regional Development Association ¡V South West, and the South West Regional Development Agency.

A free web-based graduate employment service ¡V called ¡V is also being launched at UWE¡¦s Graduate Labour Market event. Gradsouthwest aims to tackle the ¡¥brain drain¡¦ by promoting the region as a place to work and by matching jobs in businesses in the South West to graduates with the right skills and qualifications. Speakers at the event, which is organised by UWE¡¦s Careers Development Unit and the Centre for Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies, in conjunction with HERDA-SW, will include experts on employment sectors such as IT, high-tech manufacturing, healthcare, and media and creative industries

Key findings in the survey are that:

„h Graduates are ambitious and highly focused on their future careers. They are very satisfied with their experience of higher education in the South West, but the majority leave the region, in search of better jobs, development opportunities and career prospects
„h The region is seen as a nice place to live, but not a good place to work, despite the quality of jobs being around the national average
„h The South West region has one of the highest proportions of graduates in the UK. But many are retired or looking to ¡¥downshift¡¦ and enjoy the local quality of life, with the numbers of graduates in the workforce being one of the lowest in the country. When it comes to young people, more leave the region each year than come to it

Juliet Williams, chairman of the South West RDA, said: ¡§We have to work with our partners and with industry and business to make sure that we are producing the graduates that are needed in our key industry sectors, and we need to persuade businesses that employing graduates can increase their competitiveness and profitability.¡¨

The report suggests actions to retain and attract graduates including promoting student work placements; encouraging regional employers in key sectors to work more with schools and colleges to promote opportunities in the South West, and a marketing campaign aimed at attracting more young, dynamic, professionals to the region.

The report contains valuable insights into the current job situation for graduates and employers. It is being launched at UWE¡¦s Graduate Labour Market event which also aims to heighten awareness of the skills that are available in the region.

Experts will be running workshops on the specific employment sectors of healthcare, IT, media and high-tech manufacturing, and addressing the issue of how well higher education institutions and employers communicate with each other.

Among those expected to attend are employers, their human resources departments, careers advisors, community organisations such as jobcentres, and higher education institution placement officers and business relations staff.


Editor¡¦s notes

1. The report launched on 26 March 2003 is called Choices and Transitions: a Study of the Graduate Labour Market in the South West. The full report and executive summary can be seen on or contact Sean Mackney, HERDA-SW on 07711 047576 or 01392 229578 for more information.

2. The launch has been organised by the University of the West of England in collaboration with the Higher Education Regional Development Association ¡V South West. HERDA-SW is the association of higher education institutions in the region.

3. The new web-based graduate recruitment service, is a free service linking all the region¡¦s universities and colleges. It offers employers access to talented individuals for full-time, part-time, or vacation employment and placement opportunities.

4. The South West Regional Development Agency was established in 1999. Its most important role is to ensure the long-term economic success of the region, by promoting the right skills among its workforce, the most innovative businesses, and a high quality environment.

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