Quantifying Human Capital
One of the most extraordinary successes of the Arc’s ‘Triple Helix’ lies in an unparalleled ability to retain and pull in talented individuals into the region.
Positive relationships with an immediate locality, whether born from friendships made in formative years or through community ties and industry networks, are critical when making the decision of where to put down roots for the future.
In a recent study from Liberty Living, 77% of graduates in Cambridge cited ‘networking opportunities’ as a primary driver for keeping them in the city. Research from UC Berkeley on ‘vortex universities’ describes this positive effect on innovation ecosystems where these influences are most frequently strongest: “students matriculate, learn, contribute to the campus ecosystem, and graduate… then many of these alumni stay in the vicinity of the campus to work and live.”
Attracting and retaining talent sharpened in the Arc empowers the region and pushes the frontier of innovation further.
The ‘stickiness’ of towns and cities like Oxford, Cambridge, and Bedford is already evident in the changing composition of professional occupations. Milton Keynes ranks in the UK’s top 5 for concentration of high tech and digital SMEs, while the town is now home to over 10,000 software and data engineers which is more than double what it was five years ago.
Despite the region’s highly educated young population, barriers to human capital formation still pose unassailable limits to the Arc’s growth in the long-term. In Oxford and Cambridge house prices are over 10-times average earnings and housing formation rates are some of the lowest in the country, while regional transport links are poor when measured against better integrated knowledge clusters that have achieved a far greater geographical scale.
Actively cultivating talent within the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and retaining it is as important as attracting best-in-class talent from around the globe, too. In this respect the Arc is underperforming, as relative income inequalities and housing affordability across the Oxford-Cambridge Arc mean that access to education can vary profoundly. As the National Deprivation Index demonstrates, while South Oxfordshire (308) and Cambridge (300) enjoy some of the highest mobility and accessibility of education scores of the 318 UK Local Authorities included in the analysis, the same is not true for Luton (52), Peterborough (53) and Corby (70), which rank at the other end of the scale.
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Creating a Talent Pipeline to Supercharge the Arc
In the third instalment of our webinar series with the Arc Universities Group and CBI, we will be discussing how to create a talent pipeline for the future, to supercharge the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.