Like many other smaller regions in the UK, universities in Great Britain (and Dublin) have attracted many students from NI.
Maybe it’s because we offer the strongest set of academic results each year, or we have further challenges which operate as push factors and encourage students to start afresh in new cities like London, Liverpool or Glasgow. Whatever the cause or reason, we have a lot of momentum and positives to attract our talent back.
Each year, around 17,000 Northern Ireland students are based in GB universities and colleges. Approximately a third return after they complete their degree and many continue to stay in GB to start and enhance a career in a variety of fields. The longer people stay away, the further distant they become and it becomes harder to communicate the positive developments now happening across NI.
Granted, Northern Ireland can’t offer the fastest growing economy or a great track record of political stability, but we should recognise many recent positives which can only offer optimism for local students and emerging talent to develop a local career.
We have a sustainable volume of foreign direct investment (fdi) through Invest NI. Many brands from across the world now value the talent we offer. They are bringing in long-standing opportunities to develop and progress a career. New jobs are arriving all the time which create opportunity and training to develop skills and experience.
Graduates are also highly in demand across indigenous companies in NI and many trade and industry bodies are calling out skill shortages. In recent years, highly successful training academies are available across many sectors which help graduates to experience a fast-paced entry to an industry with high conversion rates into employment.
Our two key cities, Belfast and Derry have a solid start-up community and we have emerging sectors such as cyber-security, legal services, creative and digital, advanced manufacturing and many more.
We have record investment into hotel development, student accommodation and commercial offices. We have record tourism volume and this is expected to dramatically improve due to Game of Thrones and many other outstanding features and attractions.
And the cost of doing a degree is one third the price of GB! So, let’s start reaching out to our young talent and spread the message. It’s time to come home and for current students, start to weigh up the local universities and career defining opportunities which offer a positive career future.