Boosts for the North bring business growth, but what does this means for talent?

Ever wondered why more people don’t move to Lancashire? I do regularly…

As somebody born and bred in London, who initially made the move North for University, I do not understand why more people don’t do the same. From the beauty of the Lake District, the Trough of Bowland and Blackpool (yes, really!), to the beautiful architecture around Lancashire’s towns and of course, the great outdoors, Lancashire and the North offer a lifestyle that should be envied.

Since joining Ginger Recruitment, I have attended a number of networking events and business forums where the hot topics have largely been surrounding the City Deal, the Northern Power House, Boost Initiatives and various other topics about the improvements in Lancashire. Whilst there were many merits to all the discussions and some great debates about the future, one topic has stood out from the delegates – the talent debate (or lack of it). There is a belief amongst many that all the young talent, particularly within tech industries, are all gravitating to Manchester, but is this actually true?

I spent the first 15 years of my recruitment life recruiting mainly in Manchester, accepting the wisdom that everybody lusted for city centre careers. I have spent much of the last 5 years recruiting further afield and particularly here at Ginger, where our main focus is Lancashire, I hear a lot of talk about how there is a lack of talent in Lancashire; often there is a belief that you have to go to the big cities because that is where all the jobs are, right?

Wrong! Enter City Deal…

The introduction of the City Deal – a ‘once in a lifetime’ funding program with £434 million of investment for Preston and South Ribble- will see the creation of 20,000 new jobs, in turn resulting in a positive impact for the whole of Lancashire, not just Preston and South Ribble.

So with this creation of around 20,000 jobs we now face the burning dilemma of ‘who will fill them’? Aren’t they all in Manchester? The answer of course is never that simple.

Over the last few years I have heard a lot of talk from candidates about how they would love to wave the traffic filled motorways goodbye, or if you are lucky enough to get on the cramped, delayed rail service to the apparent centre of the Northern universe those as well.

If only there were the jobs in Preston, Blackburn, Burnley, for the high calibre of organisations and industry leaders that we see from the likes of Manchester and Liverpool…

The recent “improvements” to the travel infrastructure into Manchester has focussed this desire for many people not to have to commute anymore due to journey times increasing by 50% and now more people than ever want to work closer to home.

Enter Lancashire…

Lancashire is bursting at the seams; full of amazing businesses, from SMEs through to global organisations, doing some incredible work which can match anything that is being done in Manchester. The key message here however is that few people know about it.

Media City, the Northern Quarter and the experimental work being done at Manchester University are on the tips of most tongues; why are these areas more well-known than the loyal and hearty Lancashire?

The answer to me is simple! They advertise themselves better. From my conversations with candidates and businesses, far more people know of the Northern Power House than The City Deal and my fear here is that will attract even more people to move to the major cities because that is where much of the focus seems to be.

Manchester is amazing at advertising itself, while Lancashire drags behind. Yes, we all know about the beautiful countryside but what about the wealth of industry, the start-up businesses that are a challenge to anything in Manchester? We need to shout louder that people don’t have to go to Manchester, we need to extol the virtues of a work life balance, that there is just as much career opportunity and career progression available in the businesses outside Manchester and Liverpool.

Recently, I went to visit a specialist engineering company who were struggling with their recruitment. I had never heard of them previously, I asked a few friends and colleagues with equally limited responses, yet having met them I know them to be a fantastic success story, growing quickly and at the cutting edge of technological advancement… why do more people not know about them?!

Furthermore, we need to ignite new ideas surrounding how businesses can engage with potential new staff. I was recently talking to Guy Cookson of Hotfoot Design advocating co-working spaces for start-ups and freelancers as a great way to start that engagement. We need to create and market the environment for companies and career driven entrepreneurs, and to more importantly, attract and retain them. If the talent isn’t here businesses cannot build and grow here.

If the City Deal is going to succeed and create 20,000 jobs for Preston and the South Ribble plus the knock on to the rest of the county, then we will have to find a way to attract the talent. Clearly some roles are easier to recruit than others, however for a business to grow it does need to have all departments staffed so we have to find a way to recruit the hard to fill roles. So you need to ask yourself these questions:

Are we shouting about what we do well and telling the world how great we are?

Are we a company people would actually want to work for?

Do we offer a package to attract talent away from Manchester?

Are we working with the right recruitment agency or agencies and what are they doing to help promote us?

The City Deal is going to be a huge economic boost for the whole of Lancashire however, we need to be in a position to take advantage of that, ensuring we are attracting the best talent to the area and not continually lose this talent to the larger cities.

Here at Ginger we know how good a place to live and work Lancashire is, we are based right in the middle of it. The City Deal is going to be great for Lancashire and we want to be part of it.

Jamie Allan, Operations Manager