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Public sector cuts threaten graduate retention in the North and Midlands

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Public sector cuts could reverse patterns of improved graduate retention in cities and regions outside of the South East, resulting in a 'brain drain' likely to impede economic recovery.


According to a report published today by The Work Foundation, Cutting the Apron Strings, the public sector has proportionally more young graduates than the private sector. With new graduate unemployment already at 20%, public sector cuts are likely to increase graduate unemployment in the short-term.

On a longer-term basis, this will result in a flight of young graduates from public sector dependent places in the North to places with stronger private sectors in the South East.

Over the past decade Yorkshire and Humberside, the North East and the East Midlands have seen a proportional increase in young graduates (those aged between 20 and 29) and cities such as Leeds, Sheffield and Rotherham have experienced large overall rises in young graduates. The evidence suggests this trend has been driven by increased public sector demand in the regions during the decade of public sector expansion from 1997.  

Jonathan Wright, author of the report said: "The Coalition must demonstrate its commitment to rebalancing the economy. High skilled graduates are vital for urban innovation and growth. With the scrapping of schemes such as the Future Jobs Fund, the Coalition must now focus on developing strategies aimed at integrating the highly skilled into local private sector jobs.

 "The flight of young graduates due to public sector job losses in the regions would exacerbate this trend, disproportionately hindering economic recovery in the North and Midlands. This must be recognised and taken into account as the Coalition implements its cuts agenda over the next four years."