Sign In for Full Access

Quick access through the institutional single sign-on Manchester Met Sign In
Skip this for now
Public Access Here

Sign In for Free Access

Login with email for free guest access to a range of Rise content
Logging You In!
Incorrect Password (Click Here to Reset)! Passwords Must Match Password must be more than 8 characters
Skip this for now
Man Met Access Here

Graduate migration and Tech and Creative Digital (T and CD) employment in Greater Manchester

This blog post was written by me (Tanvir Ahmed) as part of a research internship in which I supported the evaluative work done by researchers in the Decent Work and Productivity Research Centre at Manchester Metropolitan University,  regarding a project funded by the Office for Students (OFS) Challenge Competition called Graduates for a Greater Manchester, which aims to contribute to the development of digital skills of students in the city region.


This summary has been created in order to outline the key parts of a review conducted by researchers in the Decent Work and Productivity Research Centre. The condensed structure of this summary will lay out the important material from report 2 which includes graduate migration graduate mobilities in T and CD sectors. The information provided will be useful to stakeholders who are likely to be interested about the movement of graduates in the UK and more specifically those within Greater Manchester in T and CD sectors.

Where do graduates go ‘geographically’ on leaving University?

Geographic and social mobility interrelate closely for individuals, whilst the retention and attraction of graduates contributes to regional economic growth. The influence of having been originally resided in a region was the most controlling factor in terms of where a graduate ended up working (Ball, 2005). London is known for its success in attracting and retaining graduates.

Analysis reveals that 79.2% of graduates working in the North West region were originally from there, despite assumptions that graduates are likely to move around for the best jobs is not the case as many stays close to their roots (Ball, 2015). Many graduates choose to stay local despite the advantage mobile graduates have in terms of earnings (Kidd, O’Leary, & Sloane, 2017). However, it is said to be that most mobile graduates are those with the highest grades from Russell Group Universities who show high attraction towards London. (Swinney & Williams, 2016)

Despite trailing behind London, according to Ball (2018) 53.6% of the resident population of Manchester have a degree, this is above the national average showcasing they perform well in terms of graduate population and well-educated residents.

CityShare of all graduates, 2013/14-2014/15 (%)Share of jobs, 2015 (%)
1 London24.418.7
2 Manchester4.53.8
3 Birmingham4.03.6
4 Leeds1.81.5
5 Newcastle1.61.4
6 Bristol1.61.3
7 Glasgow1.61.8
8 Liverpool1.51.0
9 Sheffield1.41.2
10 Edinburgh1.41.1

(Swinney & Williams 2016)

If a city wants to attract and retain a greater number of graduates then it needs to support economic growth, with the aim of creating more jobs in particular high skilled labour jobs. Graduates are attracted to Manchester despite low wages compared to other cities in the UK, it shows that career progression is more valued over wages for graduates. Relational ties play a factor in retention, graduates who grow up in the region are likely to want to continue living and working in Greater Manchester considering the right opportunities are available.

What are the patterns of graduate employment in Tech and Creative Digital (T and CD) sectors of Greater Manchester?

The T and CD sector takes between 33,000 and 35,000 new university leavers every year nationwide. It is said to be that 75% of leavers have a first degree. Along with the supply of Masters being 14-15%, who were important in film publishing, IT, advertising, and the creative arts. [Hyperlink Report] Between 4 and 4.4% of the UKs new T and CD work began their careers in Greater Manchester. Each year over 1000 new first-degree graduates enter the T and CD sector in Greater Manchester. As SMEs is a key feature of the of the T and CD sectors, 61% of new entry graduates were employed at SMEs in Greater Manchester.

Computer science had exceeded design as the most common subject used for entry into the local labour market of T and CD sectors of Greater Manchester. Followed by Media Studies through the same time period. Others include history, electronic engineering, management, and journalism.

The proportion of new entrants coming in at professional level has been on the increase standing at 90% in 2016/17. The most common degree level occupations were software developers, marketing professionals more specifically market researchers, and many areas of specialist IT, reflecting Manchester’s marketing industry and the influence of MediaCityUK in Salford. Despite this, employers reported difficulty of recruitment into these roles which represents the disequilibrium between the local labour market capacity and supply of entrants.

Man Met University is the largest institution that supplies graduates that go into T and CD sectors in Greater Manchester, followed by the university of Salford. However, the majority of graduates entering the T and CD sectors in Greater Manchester did not graduate from a Mancunian institution – Manchester Metropolitan University or University of Manchester.  Interesting as University of Manchester being a significant supplier to a lot of sectors, was not the largest supplier to any major T and CD sectors in the North West.


Greater Manchester has the largest student population outside of London and the region performs relatively well in retaining graduate human capital. The region is known for its well-educated residents. It retains graduates who are originally from the region as well those who came to study at a higher education institution in Greater Manchester. There is no doubt graduates find the city an attractive place to live and work after the end of their studies.  Even though wages are low compared to other cities in the UK, graduates choose Greater Manchester for the opportunities and potential growth showcasing that career progression is more valued than starting salaries. Every year 1000 graduates enter the T and CD sector of Greater Manchester. 90% of those roles are graduate roles, the majority of them have either been raised or studied at a higher education institution in Greater Manchester.

Compared to other cities, Greater Manchester’s labour market of the T and CD sector, has many strengths revolving around IT, television, and advertising along with certain roles that graduate enter which includes programming, software development, marketing and sales and arts production and direction. 

However, it’s worth noting that the T and CD labour sector is just a small proportion of Greater Manchester’s graduate labour market as a whole. Which confirms the need for Universities to encourage the supply of digital skills of graduates regardless of the industry. SME’s of Greater Manchester are known for their large intake of graduates. The relation between education providers and industries is key bond that needs to be worked on in order to bridge the gap between industry requirements and skills acquired through education. Taking these steps going forward is what will lead Greater Manchester in achieving a high-tech digital labour market.