Opportunities knock

By at home

London isn’t the only place to live for those who want to get ahead in the world of work. Lots of other cities around the UK are stepping up to provide career openings in a range of sectors. Lower cost of living, thriving economies and exciting job prospects abound in places north, south, east and west of the capital…

Offering job prospects in professional services firms and creative industries. Thanks to its cotton-spinning industry and the coal mines that fuelled the factories to turn the cotton into clothing,

Manchester was the world’s first industrial city. Today, however, it stands tall as a centre for professional services firms. Financial services firm KPMG employs 600 people in the city and there are 60 banks with a presence in the city, including HBOS, Lloyds TSB and Santander. The business and financial services firms employ around a quarter of a million people, helping to create annual wealth in the region of £9 billion. And that’s not where the employment opportunities end.

The third largest city in the UK also has a thriving creative industry. It is estimated that the creative industries and digital media sector in Greater Manchester include more than 7,000 businesses, employing 53,000 people. And the good news is that the sector is set to grow by 20% by 2015. Companies that offer opportunities include the likes of animation company Firestep to Granada Television company, which famously produces Coronation Street. From 2011, the BBC will have a new home in Manchester in a development called MediaCityUK. The hub is expected to house 15,000 people and accommodate up to 1,200 businesses, creating thousands of new jobs.

Telecommunications providers such as BT are also investing heavily in the area. BT has 2,800 employees in Manchester and is now putting more high-tech fibre into the ground so it can cope with increased demand from companies in the future. 

  • Biotechnology employs 22,000 in Manchester
  • More than 50,000 jobs have been created since 1997


Where proximity to the sea is a boon to the city’s revitalised economy. Originally a centre for trading goods between the UK and Europe in the Middle Ages, Southampton is still used as a major link to trading routes around the world. Southampton is the economic hub of the south coast and much of the new business opportunities are still centred around the town’s proximity to the sea. Although ships are no longer built in Southampton, the marine industry constitutes a quarter of the Solent’s economy, directly providing jobs for around 25,000 people, with at least another 13,000 in supporting industries.

Among these are centres of excellence in marine science and engineering. The port of Southampton supports jobs for 12,000 people and is one of the UK’s busiest and most significant ports for trade in goods. Thousands of goods enter the UK through Southampton and to keep up with the increasing numbers, small companies are being created to serve global customers. These small businesses are at the heart of the local economy.

  • With jobs for over 139,000 people, Southampton is the economic hub of the South Coast
  • A top cargo port, 40 million tonnes of goods pass through it each year


Public sector jobs abound with new growth flourishing in the creative sector, biosciences and the financial services. In the late 19th century, coal from the Welsh valleys was transported through the docks to destinations all across the world, helping to power the industrial age and Cardiff’s development. Following the decline of the coal industry, the docklands fell into disuse. In 1999, however, new life was breathed into the area through redevelopment, creating a thriving area now known as Cardiff Bay. Today, Cardiff is at the forefront of a number of up-and-coming industries, which include biosciences, IT and creative sectors.

The bioscience and pharmaceuticals industries are supported by collaborations between universities and businesses. Pharmaceuticals, in particular, are recognised as having strong potential for rapid economic growth, and Cardiff makes up a third of pharmaceutical jobs in Wales. As the country’s capital, Cardiff also benefits from large employers such as the Welsh Assembly Government, Cardiff Council and NHS Wales.

In fact, public administration, education and health is the largest sector in Cardiff, providing employment for 32% of the thriving city’s workforce. Creative industries – including film, TV, new media, printing and publishing – are becoming increasingly important within the UK economy and Cardiff is the hub of the creative economy in Wales.

The BBC, which already has a good presence in Cardiff, plans to double television network production from Wales by 2016, and central to these plans will be the new TV production centre at the Roath basin site in the heart of Cardiff Bay. This will provide a huge boost to the area and create many new jobs. Cardiff is also home to a large number of globally recognised financial services companies, including HBOS, Lloyds TSB, HSBC, Zurich, GMAC, GE and Legal & General.

Around one in five people employed in Cardiff are employed in the business and financial services sector and as the economy strengthens, more opportunities will arise. Construction of the new St David’s 2 shopping centre in Cardiff has also provided a huge boost. Byron Davies, chief executive of Cardiff Council, says: ‘St Davids 2 shopping centre will mean a massive shift in our position as a retail centre. It has already helped employment in the city enormously.’

  • The pharmaceutical sector is expected to produce employment growth of 1.5% per annum  up to 2016
  • Communications sector is expected to grow by 3.75%


A city with thriving sectors in finance, the internet and retail, find opportunities galore to build a career in Leeds. Once dominated by woollen cloth-making during the Industrial Revolution, Leeds was named one of the best places in Europe to locate a business in Cushman & Wakefield’s European Cities Monitor 2009 report. There are now 30 national and international banks based in the city, which include the headquarters of First Direct, Direct Line, Halifax and the UK operations centre for GE Consumer Finance.

More than 110,000 people are employed in the sector, the largest in the UK outside London, accounting for 25% of the city’s gross domestic product (GDP). The Bank of England, which has its headquarters in London, has its secondary office in the heart of Leeds’ business quarter. The city also remains one of the country’s main manufacturing centres, with particular strengths in engineering, printing, chemicals and food production. Major companies include Arla Foods, DePuy International, and Carlsberg UK, all of which are located here.

  • Between 2003 and 2008, the financial and business services sector grew by 22%
  • Leeds accounts for 28% of the 185,900 jobs created in Yorkshire and humber


Presenting healthy scope to grow in both the public and private sectors. Historically, Belfast has been the leading centre for the Irish linen industry, tobacco production, rope-making and shipbuilding. Although Northern Ireland’s capital subsequently suffered as a result of the decline of the manufacturing sector and sectarian strife, in the last 10 years, it has boomed economically and culturally.

Today, the city of Belfast is a real employment hotspot. Approximately 30,000 jobs have been created over the last decade and close to 21,000 more jobs are forecast between 2006 and 2016. The public sector plays a huge role in Belfast’s economy with almost two out of every five jobs in public administration, education and the health sector. The city is home to strong financial, telecoms and software sectors, and several world-renowned employers have bases there including Fujitsu, Citigroup and Microsoft. The creative industries sector is also growing rapidly in Belfast, with over 17,000 people employed in creative businesses such as graphic and web design.

  • Belfast has 28% of total employment in Northern Ireland
  • The rising number of jobs in the city reduced unemployment from 9.3% in 1997 to 3.9% in 2007


A major hub for call centres, it’s at the forefront of the digital media revolution. Once a major port, bringing in tobacco, cotton and sugar from Britain’s colonies and later exporting manufactured goods such as textiles, tools, steam trains and machine components, Glasgow was a leading city during the height of the Industrial Revolution. Despite the eventual decline of these traditional industries, thanks to a huge regeneration programme of the Clyde Waterfront – the largest of its kind in Scotland – Glasgow is welcoming a new economy. Today, the Clyde’s Pacific Quay is the hub for creative industries in Scotland. Besides being home to the BBC, Scottish Television and The Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio, it is also where the Digital Media Quarter is situated.

The country’s most cutting-edge digital media organisations are located here in two purpose-built developments called Film City and The Hub. Renowned manufacturing companies such as BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce have strong operations in the city and there are plenty of employment opportunities in the financial sector, too. In fact, Glasgow is at the centre of the insurance industry of Scotland with companies including Sheilas’ Wheels and AXA Insurance. The customer call centre industry is also thriving in and around Glasgow. It is estimated that around 40,000 people work in the sector for a number of prominent companies, such as Lloyds TSB, Direct Line and O2.

  • Since 1995, Glasgow has created almost 80,000 new jobs, making it one of the UK’s fastest-growing cities in terms of job creation
  • A quarter of Scotland’s largest businesses are situated in Glasgow

When size doesn’t matter…
It’s not just the biggest cities that can help you prosper. Some of the smaller towns and cities in and around London are giving the biggies a run for their money…

This is the top place in the country to look for work and the town best placed in the UK to emerge from recession, according to recent reports. A staggering 36% of the Reading population has a degree, 32% of employees work in growth areas and only 20% are in the public sector, giving the town huge scope to grow. Specialising in financial services to complement London’s economy and developing linked specialisations, like computer software and consultancy, Reading is booming.

Ranked as the city with the highest percentage of high skills of any city in the UK, lowest percentage of low skills and the most knowledge-intensive city, Cambridge has the lowest youth unemployment in the country. Its residents are fifth in the UK table for highest earnings, beating biggies such as Leeds, Glasgow and Manchester.

If you do like to be beside the seaside, head for Brighton – the city with the highest private sector jobs growth. Brighton’s financial and business services sector employs 25% of the workforce. The biggest private sector employer is American Express, with 3,000 staff. Health and public administration employs about 16% of the workforce and Brighton has a high density of businesses in media and digital media. And of course, there’s the robust tourist trade.

Pictures: getty images

Read Now

    Have no related Post.

James Caan’s top business tips

Multimillionaire James Caan has run dozens of businesses including Alexander Mann, the first...

Is it time to go back to basics in business?

Finding the right people for your business can be the hardest part of starting your own company and...