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Challenge for policymakers

Only a third of students plan to stay in Scotland


Students are becoming less driven by pay and career

Less than a third of students studying in Scotland intend to find work north of the border after graduation, according to a new study.

The findings in the research highlight the scale of the task facing policymakers and businesses in attempting to retain talented young people in the workforce, particularly ahead of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

London had the highest retention rate with seven in 10 (69%) students deciding to remain and work there post-graduation.

Scotland was the next best performing area of the UK, but the retention figure is only 32%. Britain’s worst performing region was the East of England, with only 12% of students planning to continue living in the area.

Grant Thornton surveyed 1,080 university students throughout the UK and says the figures raise questions over whether more action is required to retain graduates.

The research also showed that when it comes to choosing where they want to live and work, career opportunities or higher pay were less important than having a good work-life balance (48% of respondents). This mirrored the trend already seen across the Millennial and Generation Z workforce. This was followed closely by being somewhere with family and friends nearby (47%).

Time spent travelling (43%), housing affordability (43%), career development (42%) and job availability (42%) also ranked highly, while housing availability (7%), being able to start or grow a business (8%) and living in a diverse place (13%) or one with a sense of community (14%) were rated as the least important factors.

The survey forms part of Grant Thornton UK’s Vibrant Capital report. Keely Woodley, partner at the firm, said: “The challenge facing Scotland is to ensure that it can keep hold of its best and brightest young talent. The survey shows that students want more from their future home than just career and pay.

“There are steps that businesses can take to encourage students to commit themselves to Scotland to help improve the overall vibrancy and economic stability of the country.

“As we continue to see skills shortages across many sectors and the impacts of Brexit on the talent pool become more apparent, this will become an increasingly business critical issue and companies need to be thinking about this now to alleviate potential problems in the future.

“There’s also a clear role for Scottish higher education institutions to play in tackling this problem. Universities need to be proactive in fostering stronger links with local businesses and creating a viable and attractive pathway for departing students to enter the local economy.”

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