The Entrepreneurs’ Forum has endorsed former Chancellor George Osborne’s belief that the North faces being left behind if the ‘brain drain’ of graduates isn’t stemmed. The organisation believes that more needs to be done to highlight the benefits of living and working in the North East to encourage skilled graduates to remain in the region.
According the government-backed Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP), which is chaired by Mr Osborne, 30,000 graduates a year leave the North of England after completing their studies.
This leads to a reduced pool of skilled people available to businesses with scale-up ambitions and was reflected in a recent study of Entrepreneurs’ Forum members, which revealed that a lack of available skills is a bigger concern to companies than the UK leaving the European Union.
However, Entrepreneurs’ Forum chairman, Nigel Mills, questions the importance of the North East to the Northern Powerhouse Partnership as the region is not represented on its board. He believes experienced entrepreneurs from the region are well placed to help the Northern Powerhouse succeed.
Nigel Mills says, ‘Retaining graduates and other Northern Powerhouse issues are not just challenges for the North West and Yorkshire, but the entire North of England and I would encourage George Osborne to look to the North East to balance the debate on the NPP board. In addition, North East businesses need to engage more with the partnership.
‘Representation from North East entrepreneurial firms would help fly the flag for the region and help turn Mr Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse dream into more of a reality.’
‘The North East is proven to be the ideal location for growing businesses, according to a recent IPPR report, and has exciting, dynamic industries, such as the tech sector, which generate attractive employment opportunities. In addition, we have some fantastic universities that are creating skilled and talented graduates.’
Mills adds, ‘However, as the NPP report highlights, we have to stem the flow of graduates leaving the North East to support the ambitions of scale-up businesses in the region. To achieve this we have to sell the benefits of living and working in the region to graduates and show them their decision to choose the North East for their studies should also apply to their post-university careers.
‘The government and bodies like the NPP can play more of a part in this through the Northern Powerhouse initiative, alongside organisations like the Entrepreneurs’ Forum and the North East universities. If this can happen there is no reason why the region can’t enhance its position in the UK economy and deliver a higher proportion of retained graduates.’