Being fortunate enough to live within walking distance of the North Cornwall coast, I am able to enjoy its stunning beauty with rugged cliffs, sandy beaches and windswept moorland on an almost daily basis. I know I am incredibly lucky, and regularly give thanks that early morning beach walks, not battling through commuter traffic or being wedged into a crowded tube train are the norm!
Many choose a simpler way of life, better balance and closer relationship with the environment over the bright lights and large salaries. However, this does come at a cost, with wages being generally lower, whilst housing and the cost of living is often more expensive. In essence, we pay a premium to live in Cornwall which isn’t always reflected in the opportunities or salaries available.
Cornwall’s brain drain
Cornwall faces a ‘brain drain’ each year, with the brightest talent leaving school for universities often outside the County. On graduation, the most exciting careers may not be in Cornwall and so it’s not until much later in their working life that they return to the County, if at all.
There are some fantastic opportunities available in Cornwall, with world class hospitality outlets and great technology companies, however they struggle to attract new talent to the County.
Without the critical mass of companies based in the far south west, potential employees can be hesitant to uproot themselves and their family in case that role doesn’t work out and there are no similar opportunities available in the area. Expensive housing relative to other parts of the country can also be a deterrent.
Whereas elsewhere in the country, employees are happy to travel considerable distances for work, in Cornwall, the poor infrastructure with crowded roads and narrow lanes mean that most people commute a maximum of 10 to 20 miles, which also restricts the choice of employment.
Added to this, migration from the EU and other parts of the world is slowing down as a result of Brexit and our slowing economy which makes the UK less attractive.
Making better use of our resources could have added benefits
The outcome is that businesses in the South West will have to make the best use of the resources available, which could be really good news for the Cornwall workforce.
It could mean more investment in training and upskilling, bringing with it opportunities for career progression and associated pay rises. With these higher skilled roles, the drain of young people leaving the county may be stemmed with increasing opportunities for quality apprenticeships or sponsorship of degree studies encouraging graduates to return.
Once you get a sufficiently large number of well qualified potential employees, new businesses will be encouraged to relocate or open up branches in Cornwall, which will in turn attract more talent.
So, what could seem to be challenging times ahead may well turn out to be a blessing in disguise.