Careers in the South West

In 2018, 13% 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. Finding a job through our internship 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?

Exeter City Council (ECC) is developing a new skills strategy for the city, which will focus on city businesses and residents to ensure that Exeter is an inclusive, healthy and sustainable city, where opportunities and growth is shared by all.  The skills strategy will complement the emerging Exeter Vision 2020 around the themes of Innovative & Analytical City, Healthy & Inclusive, The Most Active City in the UK, Accessible World Class Education, Liveable & Connected and A leading Sustainable City.   

The top sectors in Exeter is 2019 are:

Human Health and Social Work Activities 16.5%
Wholesale and Retail Trade; Repair of Motor Vehicles and Motorcycles 14.3%
Education 11%
Administrative and Support Service Activities 9.9%
Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities 8.8%
Public Administration and Defence; Compulsory Social Security 7.7%
Accommodation and Food Service Activities 6.6%
Information and Communication 4.9%
Construction 4.4%
Manufacturing 2.7%
Transportation and Storage 2.7%
Financial and Insurance Activities 2.7%
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation 1.9%
Water Supply; Sewerage, Waste Management and Remediation Activities 1.6%
Real Estate Activities 1.6%
Other Service Activities 1.6%
Electricity, Gas, Steam and Air Conditioning Supply 1.4%

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!