The North
THE ASSOCIATION of Graduate Career Services is keen to talk up the prospects of graduates from Northern institutions who want to stay in the area, and to encourage graduates from all areas to consider job opportunities in the North.

"Employment for graduates in the small- and medium-sized business sector has mushroomed over the past five years or so," says Bernard Carney, head of the careers service at Bradford University, and author of a report looking at graduate work in Yorkshire and Humberside.

The traditional milk round - when big firms sent their recruiters to every university in the summer term - still exists, but it's more targeted now. "They tend to go for specific courses," says Carney. "For example, Huddersfield runs degrees in transport and logistics - very attractive to some specialist companies."

Key findings of Carney and colleagues' report include:

n 75 per cent of graduates stayed in the region to work.

n 20 per cent of graduates normally resident outside the region stayed on in Yorkshire and Humberside.

n "Retention rates" seem to be increasing, with place of study exerting a "strong pull" on preferred place to work.

n The North is a net importer of graduates - it gained more graduates whose homes were elsewhere, than it lost of its own home-grown graduates.

The last few years have also seen the growth of large financial services firms, either expanding in the North or relocating there. HSBC is in Sheffield; First Direct in Leeds; and the Halifax is big in Leeds as well as in Halifax itself.

"Financial service firms do their own training," says Bernard Carney. "Graduates of any discipline find employment there."

In all sectors, graduates with prior IT skills are in huge demand, but they don't need an IT-related degree.

In the North-west, graduate opportunity is held to be good. The University of Central Lancashire claims a good success rate for its journalism graduates, according to Martin Copper, publicity officer.

In the North-east, new information shows clearly an increase in graduate opportunity in chemicals, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, as well as tourism and catering. Local government initiatives have brought more jobs in arts, entertainment and culture.

But latest statistics show 49 per cent of graduates working in the North- east had jobs in public administration, health and education, with this remaining a strong sector for the foreseeable future.

Increasingly, careers services in the North are looking to draw in a wider range of firms, encouraging small- and medium-sized enterprises to look at graduates, as well as the more traditional large firms with established graduate training programmes.

Graduate Link in Sheffield estimates it's placed 1,200 graduates in the last three years, mostly with businesses with no previous contact. North- east Graduate Direct in Newcastle has had particular success with multi- media enterprises and smaller biotechnology firms, says co-ordinator Pat McChesney at Northumbria University. Other schemes include Graduates for Business Development (on Tyneside) that targets firms with under 250 staff, and Durham University Business School's Teaching Company Scheme which matches graduates with firms that have very specific needs.

Northern salary levels - pounds 8,000 to pounds 20,000 plus, with most at pounds 12,000 to pounds 14,000 and IT people in greatest demand and paid the most - are generally lower than in the South-east and London, but the cost of living, housing especially, is lower.

Heather Welford


Katie Adie, BBC TV's famous war reporter, graduated from the University of Newcastle