The economic performance of UK cities is increasingly dependent on the skills of their workforce. Cities across the UK face the challenge of both attracting and retaining high-skilled talent. The Great British Brain Drain investigates migration within the UK, specifically between cities. It finds that many university cities lose their graduates to London, with this movement especially strong for the highest performing graduates with 2.1 or 1st class degrees from Russell Group universities. Despite this, most university cities experience a ‘graduate gain’: they gain more graduates than they lose. This is because the majority of movements to and from cities consist of students moving to a new city for university, and then moving again for work, with over half of all graduates following this pattern.
This briefing is a complementary piece of analysis to the main report, in which we look in detail at the nature of migration and graduate mobility into and out of Preston. First, it looks at overall migration patterns into and out of Preston. Secondly, it looks specifically at the movements of students and new graduates. Finally, it looks at the new graduate labour market in the city.
Preston’s migration patterns are dominated by movements of university students and young graduates. There was a large net inflow of young people into the city for university, and the largest net outflow occurred as 22 to 30 year-old degree-educated residents left the city. Most of these migration flows are between Preston and the rest of the North West.
Overall Preston gains graduates. The inflow of students to study in the city’s higher education institutions was followed by an outflow of new graduates. But these movements mask the underlying trend of Preston gaining graduates. While many people who had come to study left upon graduation, some remained and others have come to Preston to work. This increased the number of degree holders working in the city.
To increase the number of graduates working in Preston, be they from the University of Central Lancashire or from elsewhere, the city should focus on improving job opportunities. This includes supporting the private sector to strengthen the local economy.
High skilled employment will be crucial to attracting new graduates. As these jobs typically concentrate in city centres, the business environment in Preston’s urban core must be improved to support this type of activity. This would include improving the suitability of the office space to help businesses grow and making the city centre more accessible by improving its transport links with the rest of Lancashire.