These past two years have been tough for the recruitment industry, as employers streamlined their companies in response to the poor economic climate. As we experience the beginnings of an upturn, those who fell victim to the job cuts look towards London for hope, with the impression that it is where they will be offered the best opportunities.
This is not necessarily the case; the Thames Valley area can offer a real alternative the bright lights of London. So why is it set to prosper?
The ‘No City Left Behind’ report, produced by The Work Foundation, focuses its research on the geography of the economic recovery, naming several Thames Valley towns and cities amongst the top 10 places likely to do well. Reading and Bracknell took the premier spot ahead of London (third), Oxford took fifth place, closely followed by Milton Keynes and Aylesbury in sixth.
Hi-tech manufacturing is easily identifiable as one of the key sectors that, alongside intermediate services, finance and creative industries, will drive the UK’s economic growth over the next two decades. Nicknamed ‘Silicon Valley’ and housing the likes of Microsoft, Oracle, Dell and Hewlett-Packard, the Thames Valley looks set to be a vital location to drive economic recovery.
Statistics published by CBI illustrate the dominance of manufacturing and IT companies; they collectively represent 42.6% of the total number of companies in the region. Such a strong presence of companies within a key growth sector will surely mean that the Thames Valley will prove lucrative to the recruitment industry, and also to finance and accountancy professionals within the IT sector. But it’s not just hi-tech manufacturing that’s helping the region expand.
Despite being ranked third in the list of cities likely to do well in the recovery, and attracting many jobseekers from the UK and from across the world, London can be held partly responsible for the success of smaller cities that surround it. The Thames Valley has profited greatly from the excellent transport links that enable a commute of less than 30 minutes from many of the regions, towns and cities from either Paddington or Waterloo.
Companies are receptive to the benefits that the region offers, and you only need to take a trip down Slough’s Bath Road to see the validity of this statement: the headquarters of multinational companies spanning all industries decorate the landscape. With many blue chip companies offering excellent opportunities, it is no wonder that candidates are also seeing the benefits of working outside London.
With a more relaxed pace of life and cheaper living costs, many are becoming more open to the idea of working away from the rat race. An easier commute and a more relaxed work environment is a welcome incentives to those wanting an equal work-life balance. The region’s potential for growth, combined with the improving quality of life outside of London, positions the Thames Valley as a great place to work.
Lucy Zimmerman works in the Thames Valley team at Marks Sattin, placing part-qualified and qualified accountants into interim positions.