15 Mar 2023

BTR's role in helping regional cities retain talent

At HUB, our focus is on what we call ‘lifestyle cities’. So far, outside of London, we are developing in Birmingham, Leeds and Edinburgh. All of these, along with cities like Manchester and Bristol, have some of the best lifestyle offerings in the UK, with a great mix of employment, culture, and connectivity. They are also all university cities – with some of the highest-ranking institutions in the country.

But regional cities across the UK have historically struggled with ‘brain drain’, where graduates leave once they have finished studying, often heading for London. In fact, research from the IFS and Department for Education shows that more than 25% of grads who move after uni choose the capital.

I’m really interested in what cities are doing to turn the tide on this trend. One solution is obviously to create employment opportunities to rival London, and this is already happening, notably in Manchester (BBC) and Leeds (Channel 4) – and in part thanks to the LevellingUp agenda. Whether today’s Spring Budget will do more to encourage this remains to be seen.

Edinburgh is also faring well at keeping its graduates – a report from Knight Frank and UCAS found that the city has the UK’s highest graduate retention rate outside of London, with 53% of students apparently intending to stay in the city after graduating. Amongst other reasons, this can be put down to the city’s burgeoning tech sector, as well as high living standards.

But another crucial factor in making cities attractive to young talent is access to good #housing. Graduates want homes in great locations, close to work and entertainment, that they can afford to live in. Student accommodation has improved and professionalised over the last decade or so, graduates want more of the same!

BTR can help provide the solution: schemes tend to be in central locations with great transport links, and are fundamentally social places to live. They also come with amenities like gyms and co-working spaces, saving grads money on memberships, and are very energy efficient, saving them money on bills too.

As demand for rental homes increases (according to @Rightmove, 2022 saw a 23% YoY increase in UK rental enquiries), BTR will become increasingly important in creating an ecosystem that will attract and retain talent in cities. At HUB, we’re rising to the challenge – and encourage our contemporaries to do the same – in order to ensure the long-term success of cities across the UK.