FEATURE: Half of Harrogate graduates move away for work

Graduates from the Harrogate district are looking elsewhere to build their careers
Graduates from the Harrogate district are looking elsewhere to build their careers

Graduates who grew up in our district are shunning Harrogate, Knaresborough, Nidderdale, Ripon and Wetherby in favour of new opportunities, figures show.

As students across the district pack their bags and say their tearful good-byes over the next few weeks, figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that only half of them will return to the district to build their careers.

The congregating Graduates. Pic Richard Ponter 142930c

The congregating Graduates. Pic Richard Ponter 142930c

Harrogate based careers advisor Loraine Bones said she wasn’t surprised by the figures, but added that career prospects in the area are bright.

She said: “It is a result of the area’s success in education. They are getting good skills and going to highly respected universities then to a higher standard of job.”

She added that the decision to stay away is often a personal choice for young graduates, and not a case of them being forced to leave the area to find better job prospects.

“Many stay away from home after experiencing freedom and independence at university. There is still a pull to London and the South East for graduate schemes and graduate jobs.”

A report by Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) shows that the greatest migration from the district is in the 15 to 29 year-old age group.

The greatest internal inflow of people from other parts of England into Harrogate is 22 to 23-year-olds, however this inflow is still only half the yearly outflow of 18 to 19-year-olds.

The report concludes that a significant number of those teens heading off to University do not return to the district and estimates that almost 800 18 to 19-year-olds will move out of the district in 2014, with only around 370 22-23-year-olds moving into the area. MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, Andrew Jones said he doesn’t think this migration has a negative impact on the area.

He said: “This has been the position which has existed for a long time, but people often do come back to the area at different stages of their lives, for example when they are considering starting a family.

“Schooling in the area is excellent and that is a driving force to attracting people to the town.

“There is an interesting dynamic, the schools are successful so people go on to higher education then careers but the option to come back to their home town is attractive when they want to have a family of their own.”

He added: “We have the lowest unemployment rate for young people in the country.

“We have very valuable entrepreneurial group of people in the area, with lots of new businesses who are always on the look out for young talent.


“New businesses I speak with do not say they are worried about a lack of graduates, for them there can be a shortage of the right skills, which is where apprentices come in.”

Mrs Bones, founder of Careers Consultancy @ Say It Works agrees that the entrepreneurial spirit of people in the Harrogate district has created exciting opportunities for graduates on their childhood doorsteps.

She said: “Graduate schemes make up just a small part of the graduate recruitment, the vast majority of graduates go on to work for SMES and this region is developing a reputation for nurturing these types of businesses.

“Within 20 miles of Harrogate there are 500 plus jobs for graduates being advertised at the moment, Leeds is one of the biggest financial centres in the UK so there are plenty of opportunities around here, those not coming back to Harrogate are likely doing it by choice.

“Harrogate’s resourceful and highly motivated graduates will be seeking employment in a global market place amidst tough competition. Yet I am feeling increasingly optimistic for those who are looking to stay in the region.”

Chief executive of the Chamber of Trade, Brian Dunsby argues that more could be done to create graduate opportunities in the district.

Mr Dunsby has personal experience of the graduate ‘brain drain’ as all three of his children left home to attend university, before moving to different cities for work.

“This is not a new phenomenon,” he said.

“People from Harrogate are doing well at school, they apply to university and after moving away they don’t come back, it is a big issue and it affects a lot of families.

“They decide not to come back because there is not the same type of jobs here as elsewhere. They go onto to higher education and then go on to higher careers. Harrogate has a higher proportion of well educated families.”

The Chamber of Trade hope that a science park and business incubation centre can be built in the district, and this will in turn bring graduate opportunities to the area.

He said: “Everyone recognises the need for these things, but there is no funding.

“We need a science park and a business incubation centre, where entrepreneurs could access help and support to boost their business ideas.

Flaxby is an obvious choice for this as it is well connected to rail and road links.”

What do you think​? Are there enough opportunities to keep graduates in Harrogate, Knaresborough, Nidderdale, Ripon and Wetherby?

Email news@harrogateadvertiser.co.uk with your views.

Should I stay or should I go? Graduates have their say on job prospects

Claire Parratt

marketing manager at Vantage Motor Group in Knaresborough

“I went to Northumbria and loved Newcastle but I missed Harrogate and after spending three years away, I really appreciated how nice the town is and how lucky I am to live here. I was thinking when I came back in 2008 that I would have to work in Leeds but I was lucky to get a Marketing exec role at an agency in Harrogate a week after graduation. I have since moved on to become a group marketing manager at a company in Knaresborough which has more than doubled in size since I started two years ago. I considered the London thing but I am glad I chose to stay.

“Harrogate district has loads of opportunities for graduates and it meant I could get on the property ladder at 23 which I never would have been able to do in the big smoke.”

Frances Tulley, 23

management consultant at Accenture in London

“Whilst the district would be a great place to eventually settle down with children, after attending a London university I couldn’t imagine returning to the town in my 20s. The capital has the job prospects, the salaries and the lifestyle - although I do miss northern prices.”

Alex Lumley, 23

works at Marks and

Spencer in Harrogate

“I came back after university to live with my parents in order to find a job and acquire money before finding a place of my own. I had the option to move to Cheltenham with my partner but he decided he would rather live in Yorkshire. 

“After university we had no money and a lot of  debt between us and had to rely on my parents in order to have somewhere to live and be able to eat. I like the area we live in, however there aren’t many jobs in and around this area that aren’t specialised, it only seems to be retail but I guess that is the same for most of the country. 

“I love Yorkshire, however, the district doesn’t seem to change, it is a bubble; no one seems to move too far away and everyone knows everyone and everything about everyone, it’s like being back at school.”

Beth Farrar, 27

works as a buyer for

Tesco in London

“I moved away from Harrogate after graduating purely for the change of culture, for new experiences and to meet new people. However there are also limited corporate head offices in the north and salaries are much higher in the south - although in real terms this also translates to less disposable income.”