The National Rural Conference 2024

The Rural Services Network (RSN) is thrilled to announce the National Rural Conference 2024, taking place from 16th to 19th September. This virtual event, accessible via Zoom, is the premier gathering for senior officers, members, policymakers, and rural service professionals.
Further information and booking details can be found here

Young People's Geographical Mobility and Education Outcomes in England

In an exploration of young people's geographical mobility across English towns and cities, a recent study ‘Geographical Mobility of Young People across English Towns and Cities’ by the Centre for Subnational Analysis features the intricate relationship between educational attainment and movement patterns. Utilising the comprehensive Longitudinal Education Outcomes dataset, the study, covering cohorts from 2007 to 2019, provides a detailed portrait of how educational backgrounds influence the migratory trends of young individuals post-compulsory education. Released on 15 March 2024, this analysis not only delves into the disparities in educational outcomes across various locales but also examines the broader implications of these trends on local labour markets and demographic shifts.

Educational Attainment: A Diverging Landscape
At the heart of the analysis is a striking variance in graduate-level qualifications among the youth, with a notable gap between different towns and cities. For instance, the study points out that in towns like Blackfield and Stainforth, only about 9% of those who took their GCSEs between 2008 and 2011 had achieved a graduate-level qualification by 2017 to 2018. Contrastingly, in places like Northwood, Duffield, and Hale, this figure soared to over 70%. Such disparities underscore the significant influence of geographical location on educational attainment and subsequent life choices.

Mobility Patterns: The Quest for Opportunity
The study further reveals that a substantial portion of young adults, both graduates and non-graduates with at least a Level 3 qualification, tend to move away from their hometowns in pursuit of better opportunities. Approximately 36% of graduates and 29% of non-graduates found themselves in different locales by the 2018 to 2019 tax year. Notably, the propensity to move was markedly higher among graduates from rural areas and small towns, underscoring the magnetism of larger cities and towns in attracting young, educated talent.

Urban Attraction: The Lure of the City
Examining the mobility flows between towns and cities, the study identifies a concentration of young, educated individuals migrating towards a select few locales. Interestingly, only 26 out of over 1,000 English towns and cities boasted an inward migration rate of more than 30% for graduates. This trend highlights the magnetic pull of urban centres, with cities like London and Manchester, alongside university towns like Cambridge and York, emerging as prime destinations for young graduates.

The Impact on Local Economies
The implications of these migratory trends extend far beyond individual life trajectories. For towns experiencing a drain of young, educated individuals, the challenges include aging populations and shrinking labour pools, particularly in sectors requiring high skill levels. Conversely, towns and cities successful in attracting and retaining such talent benefit from vibrant, dynamic economies and enhanced innovation potential.

Towards a Balanced Future
This comprehensive study not only maps the geographical mobility of young people in England but also invites policymakers, educators, and local governments to reflect on strategies to balance the scales. Enhancing educational opportunities, improving local employment prospects, and investing in quality of life could serve as pivotal measures in stemming the outflow of talent from smaller towns and rural areas.

In essence, the Centre for Subnational Analysis's report on the geographical mobility of young people across English towns and cities offers a lens through which to view the interconnectedness of education, mobility, and economic vitality. As England continues to navigate the complexities of the 21st century, fostering environments that support the aspirations and potential of its youth will be paramount in ensuring a prosperous, balanced future for all regions.

The Rural Services Network: Unlocking Rural Potential
The Rural Services Network (RSN) views the findings of this report as both a challenge and an opportunity for rural England. While the data highlights the migration trends of young, educated individuals towards urban centres, it also highlights the untapped potential lying within our rural towns and villages. The RSN firmly believes that rural areas are brimming with prospects for innovation, sustainability, and quality living. However, unlocking this potential requires a concerted effort to bridge the gap in funding and infrastructure development. Fairer funding mechanisms are essential to ensure rural areas can offer the services, connectivity, and living standards that are on par with urban locales.

Moreover, strategic investments in infrastructure, such as broadband, transportation, and healthcare, are critical to making rural areas not just viable but attractive options for young professionals seeking to return or relocate after completing their studies. By addressing these core issues, we can unlock the full potential of rural England, making it a beacon of opportunity that attracts young talent to establish their futures in these communities. This approach will invigorate local economies and enhance the social fabric of our communities.



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