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Better transport key to 'Northern Powerhouse'

Investment in northern transport and a regional Oyster-style card would drastically increase the number of accessible, skilled workers in the north, according to research from CV-Library.

Its survey found that those commuting to work by train are happier with longer commutes, and with the idea of their commute time increasing, than those who drive, but that most of these workers are based in the south.

The survey of 2,100 job hunters found that 76% of UK workers who commute by train are prepared to travel over 50 minutes to work, compared to just 47.6% of those who drive.

It found, however, that only 13.5% of train commuters are based in the north east and north west, and that almost seven out of ten (69.1%) people who commute to work by train are based in London, suggesting improving the north’s transport infrastructure could greatly improve northern businesses’ access to a wider talent pool.

Though they already have the longest commutes, 63.3% of Londoners are happy to further increase their commute to over 50 minutes. This compared to just 51.9% of workers in the north east and west.

Chancellor George Osborne introduced the idea of a "Northern Powerhouse" in June 2014, stating that he “grew up with the cliché that if it wasn’t happening in London, it wasn’t happening at all”. The concept also featured strongly in his July budget, with proposals including improved transport connections and devolving more powers to larger northern cities such as Manchester.

Highlighting his organisation’s finding that Manchester is the best city for graduates when balancing job opportunities with housing costs, The Intergenerational Foundation (IF) co-founder Angus Hanton commented that better public transport in the north would encourage young talent there.

"Offering a regional Oyster-style travel card would seem a no-brainer in terms of attracting young graduate workers to these centres,” he told HR magazine. 

CV-Library managing director Lee Biggins said that [young people] “tend to travel more on public transport than older generations so any incentives to encourage them to look beyond the expense of living in the south east, where jobs are plentiful but housing is increasingly unaffordable, are welcome".