DESTINATION: THE WEST MIDLANDS
What do Ozzy Osborne, Lenny Henry and William Shakespeare all have in common? You may be surprised to discover they were all born in the West Midlands, a region that spans five counties, hosts the country’s second city and is home to the likes of the National Exhibition Centre, Cadbury’s, Bulmer’s Cider, and the annual V Festival. This is a great area to consider once you’ve graduated, as it offers phenomenal job and lifestyle opportunities.
For a start there’s the exciting city of Birmingham, which boasts more attractions than you can shake a stick at. The recent development of the Bullring Shopping Centre, with the award-winning Selfridges store, is a shopping experience you’ll never forget. Wander further and the bars of Broad Street and Brindley Place buzz at every hour of the day and night. A fifteen-minute train journey away is the National Exhibition Centre, which hosts events to cater to every taste — from the annual Clothes Show Live, to the latest pop and comedy acts.
Thanks to organisations such as Birmingham Future, the city’s graduate scene is also an active one. Birmingham Future is a lobbying and networking organisation whose aim is to represent the vibrant community of young professionals working in the city’s professional and financial services sector. Annually, it hosts a Welcome to Birmingham event for graduates new to the city. Alex Bishop, Chairman of the organisation and a Partner at law firm Shoosmiths, says: ‘There has never been a better or more exciting time to establish a career in Birmingham. Whether you’re looking to work in a large or small company, from the professional services to the creative sector, Birmingham has it all.” As a student city Birmingham boasts its fair share of chilled-out suburbs only a bus ride from the centre. Moseley and Harborne are popular with new graduates as they retain a mixture of affordable housing to rent, and great bars and restaurants.
However, the West Midlands is far more than just the metropolis of Birmingham. Travel a mere thirty minutes south by train or car and the cityscape disappears to make room for the rolling hills of Shakespeare’s Warwickshire. Career opportunities in the south of the region are plentiful as Lucy Abbot, a Warwick University graduate has found. ‘During my degree, I lived in Leamington Spa and absolutely loved it,’ she explains. ‘Many of my friends applied to large blue-chip training schemes that would take them away from the area. But I was keen to stay there, and got my first graduate job with a creative consultancy called Impact Innovation in Leamington. Although the company was small, our clients were all blue-chip organisations such as John Lewis, O2 and Britannia Building Society. Working for a small company was great as I got to be involved in every aspect of the business – I would definitely recommend it!’
The West Midlands is living proof that graduates can put their skills to good use in the most rural of places. After graduating with a Law degree from Cardiff University, Helen Turner returned to her home in Worcestershire with the intention of developing her career locally. She was successful in gaining a job as an account executive with PR consultancy Pinstone Communications, based just over the border in Leominster, Herefordshire. Her experience shows graduates looking to work in popular areas such as PR don’t necessarily have to head for the bright lights to realise their career ambitions.
In Staffordshire the number of businesses totals 27000, and opportunities for graduates looking to work surrounded by beautiful countryside are plentiful. With some of the most affordable housing around, and a location less than an hour away from Manchester, the towns and villages of the region’s most northerly county are definitely worth considering.
Now a new service designed specifically to help graduates find quality jobs in the West Midlands has been launched. Grad-Central aims to bring together graduate-hungry employers from across the area and those looking to develop their career anywhere from Worcester in the south, to Newcastle-under-Lyme in the north and all destinations in-between.
Visit Grad Central at www.grad-central.co.uk to register your details and receive news of upcoming job opportunities as they happen.
By Lucy Dinsdale, Project Manager, Grad-Central