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Manchester universities to help stop digital ‘brain drain’ to London

16 May 2019

A new collaborative scheme, launched today by Manchester Metropolitan University and The University of Manchester, aims to improve the digital skills, confidence and employment prospects of local graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds


The project, called Graduates for a Greater Manchester, will be funded by The Office for Students (OfS) and is part of a wider, multimillion-pound Government-backed project to keep graduate talent in the city’s it comes from to reduce the regional brain drain to London.

The OfS says current evidence shows that students who move away from home to study or work are more likely to find highly skilled employment compared to those who stay in their home region. To help redress this imbalance, the OfS awarded grants to fifteen institutions across the country. Manchester’s bid was the only joint application.

The Manchester collaboration focuses on digital skills and is designed to address the skills gap in one of the city’s fastest growing sectors. Its specific aim is to help local graduates, from disadvantaged backgrounds, boost their confidence in these industries by harnessing, enhancing and using the digital skills they already have as ‘digital natives.’

Dr Christine Rogers, Deputy Associate Dean for Student Experience, explains: “Our project provides us with a great opportunity to work together with those students who lack confidence generally, and more specifically in their ability to operate effectively in digital working environments.

“Many of our apparent ‘digital natives’ are not at all confident when asked to adapt to different software applications or to ‘create digitally’ and this low self-belief can stand in their way in the graduate job market.”

The project will receive around £290,000 over three years and will benefit approximately 1300 students during that period.

Tammy Goldfeld, Head of Careers and Employability at The University of Manchester, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with our academic colleagues on innovative initiatives designed to improve the employability of our students. This unique partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University will help to retain graduate talent in Greater Manchester for mutual benefit.”

The universities are also working with the Manchester City Council; Greater Manchester Combined Authority; Greater Manchester LEP / Skills Hub; Manchester Digital; Sharp Futures; Students Unions (MMU & UoM) and the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU).

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the Office for Students said: “Graduates should not have to move to London to get good jobs. It is essential that those who stay in their home towns and cities can enter high-skilled work and are not locked out of the graduate labour market.”

“This funding will help universities and colleges find ways to remove barriers to local graduate employment, broaden the choice for those local graduates, and help ensure that students are getting the right skills to enter rewarding work. It’s good news for graduates, universities and local employers in search of highly-skilled, work-ready graduates.”