It is a fact that the UK suffers from a very imbalanced economy. As a result, the majority of exciting career challenges is geographically limited to London and the South East.
But for enlightened employers and smart employees willing to look beyond the Watford Gap, there is a win-win situation to be found.
The Employee or Entrepreneur…
For those individuals willing to eschew the bright lights and golden paving of our nation’s capital there are some major quality of life advantages to be found in the provinces.
Lower costs of living or shorter commutes might prove attractive to some. The chance to avoid becoming another Generation Rent statistic by gaining a foothold on the property ladder will be a significant carrot to many.
Opportunities for work are slim though. Being a little way from the action reduces scope to develop contacts and like-minded connections. The jobs are thin on the ground.
With that being the case, anyone forging a successful career in media, marketing, design, digital, the arts and entertainment outside London gets a serious tip of the hat from me. I love meeting these kinds of people. They deserve far more credit and support for their growth than they often receive.
The Enlightened Employer or Client…
For the employer or client company it is a simple case of economics: there’s a wealth of talent outside the South East and that raw material or service they provide is not as expensive.
Given the fact your workforce won’t be stressed out from shelling out vast portions of their salary on housing costs or sick of battling with the tube every morning, you might just find them more productive too. Regionally-based companies arguably go that extra mile to compete against others in the Capital; I’ve seen many examples of that with agencies I have worked with.
Of course finding the right people will be key, but there is a raft of quality universities all over the country producing new talent every year.
Reasons For Optimism…
There are enlightened, exciting businesses showing the way in widening their horizons away from the Golden South-East.
Sky is currently breathing new life into Leeds Dock. The broadcaster has opened a new technology hub there and has plans to expand this yet further. In time, we might find Leeds developing a quayside media quarter to give Salford’s Media City a run for its money.
Investing in the regions is nothing new to Sky though. They employ thousands in finance, admin and customer service functions in Livingston, Scotland. Sky is no stranger to Leeds either having based Sky Sports teams, Customer Services and the now spun-off Sky Betting & Gaming there since 2007.
A local debate has been raging that Sky’s strategy runs the risk of sucking all the technology talent away from Leeds’ great agency scene and increasing salary costs for everyone. But once things settle down, Leeds will have an even larger and thriving, talented digital workforce in to the city.
That can only attract more investment and hopefully we will see other London businesses following suit and waking up to the benefits of spreading their operations more widely. Only then will we start to re-balance that economy of ours.