Careers in the South West

In 2015/16, 28.89% of University of Exeter graduates from undergardaute courses stayed in the South West to work full-time or continue their studies with part-time work. However, local businesses report thousands of graduate jobs remained unfilled due to a lack of suitably skilled graduates in the area. With less competition for top-level jobs, staying in the South West could give you the opportunity to go further with your career, faster. 

Our Careers in the South West initiative aims to achieve 3 key objectives:

  1. Helping you with your careers research - By providing you with information about opportunities available in the South West, we want to increase your awareness of the options available upon graduation.
  2. Promote our schemes – The Career Zone helps students secure internship opportunities in the South West – if they’re right for you.
  3. Serving the local business community – By establishing greater links with local companies, we can develop new opportunities for our students and graduates. 

Benefits of a South West Career

  • Fantastic career options relating to a wide range of sectors
  • Economically one of the most up-and-coming parts of the country
  • Less competition for top-level jobs
  • Low unemployment
  • Favourable work/life balance
  • Some of the highest standards of living in the UK
  • One of the country’s healthiest economic regions
  • Over 43.6% of jobs at graduate level
  • 13% of graduate jobs going unfilled

Benefits of Working For an Small Medium Enterprise (SME)

The population of Exeter, the capital city of Devon, is approximately 127,300 and around 35,000 people commute into Exeter on a daily basis. Exeter has 4877 registered businesses, and most of many of these are Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

There are many benefits to working for a SME:

  • Small and friendly professional working environment
  • Supportive and knowledgeable colleagues
  • Varied and interesting work
  • Team collaboration on projects
  • Learn from great leaders and entrepreneurs
  • Access close-knit local professional networks
  • Greater responsibility
  • Make high level decisions
  • Recognition of your work and achievements
  • Potential for rapid career development
  • Make a significant and measurable impact on the business

So what's out there?

The current top sectors in the region are: Manufacturing (30%); Wholesale and Retail (22%); Leisure and Tourism (11%); Professional Services (9%); Health and Social Work (5%); Transport, Storage and Communication (5%); Community, Social and Personal Services (5%); Property and Construction (4%); Media and Creative Industries (3%); Engineering (2%); Mining and Quarrying (2%); and Agriculture, Hunting and Forestry (1%).

Exeter City Council (ECC) is currently working on a large project to promote key 'Knowledge Economies' within the area and have marked graduate retention level as a key priority. Over the next few years ECC forecast advances and expansions in Professional; Legal; Financial and Management Services; Water; Environment; Natural Resources; and Science sectors.

South West Myth Buster

We asked a group of current students what their main reasons were for not wanting to stay in the region, here we try to address the main issues.

Many exciting businesses are located in the small towns and rural business parks across the region. Sometimes this means travelling to work by public transport which can be a challenge, but ask yourself is this commute any longer than commuting on London? There are some great schemes to support your access to work including car share schemes e.g. University car sharing, Car Share Devon and Car Share Somerset; free parking and cycle to work schemes.

Exeter is often described as 'the city in the country'; in many ways it offers the best of both worlds. Exeter offers both the buzz and amenities of living in a city, whilst enjoying places of outstanding natural beauty on its doorstep. Bristol, Bath and Plymouth are all within easy reach. Exeter's local government outlines just some of the fantastic opportunities that living in the South West has to offer here.

The reality is that in the South West there are offices of all sizes with many large employers in the area. Many employers put a real focus on creating exiting socials for their employees and take full advantage of the outstanding countryside the area offers.

Initially you are likely to earn less money than you would in London, but can expect to spend a lot less on the cost of living! The average graduate starting salary in the South West is £19k, but depending on the sector e.g. IT and Engineering can be in the region of £28k.

Supply of graduates to fill professional and technical roles in the South West, outstrips demand.  It is common sense to think if you go into a business and make a difference, the impact of your work will be noticed and rewarded by your employer or a competitor!