How you can reverse the northern ‘brain drain’

Tuesday, 18th September 2018

Guest blog by Tom Chapman, CandidSky

In 2016, an article published in the Guardian newspaper spoke of the northern ‘brain drain’. The publication claimed that around 310,000 graduates had left the north to pursue careers in the south over the last ten years – with many of them heading to London.

Although there are concerns that this exodus from the north could leave the region without talent, the brain drain now seems to be slowing…arguably now to a drip. Between the middle of 2016 and 2017, almost 300,000 people left London. This represented a ten-year high as individuals sought new locations to live.

While many moved to other southern cities such as Brighton, others headed to northern cities like Manchester. The allure of cheaper property and an attractive culture is difficult to resist – it certainly was in my case.

My partner and I were looking to settle down and start a family but we simply could not afford to do so in the south. We were also living in an apartment near a couple of local drug dealers. Police were commonly called out, so we didn’t exactly feel like it was the best environment for a child.

We decided a fresh start was needed and I soon had a job offer from digital agency CandidSky in Salford. Now, I’m pleased to announce we’re renting a house in a nice neighbourhood and we’re expecting our first kid.

Look to entice southern talent

We speak of the ‘brain drain’ in relation to graduates. Yet, it makes sense for these individuals to head to London as it’s almost a rite of passage. This changes when families and goals beyond a career start coming into play.

By this time, these people are usually experts in their fields with several years of experience under their belts. As a result, they are often far more valuable than graduates fresh out of university.

Fortunately, enticing these people is relatively straightforward and is helped by doing something which Manchester does best – treat people like people. Not assets.

As a result, if scouting for talent from the south, enquire about the benefits that person already receives. Then, offer such incentives as flexible hours, private health cover, and a competitive salary.

One thing which attracted me to CandidSky was the ability to work from home as well as the mental health initiatives, such as company yoga and mindfulness apps.

Don’t worry about graduates, look for professionals

For professionals based in the south, Manchester holds an appeal as the setting for the next part of their lives. It’s this which needs to be stressed to encourage more talent to the city. Many are making this decision on their own, others will just need a little push.