Career focus: Yorkshire & the humberside

A region by region look at working in HR in the UK. This month we look at
Yorkshire & the humberside.  Edited
by Ross Wigham e-mail:

Wind of transformation blows across the North

The economy of Northern England has been in a period of change for several
years and the region is a prime example of this transformation.

The economy of Yorkshire and the Humber has consistently outstripped the
European growth average for the past five years and attracted significant
foreign investment.

Because of the cheaper costs associated with the region and a workforce of
2.3 million, many large firms have moved north. The area’s10 universities and
40 colleges now provide around 10 per cent of the UK’s graduates and the
regional development fund has awarded £7.5m to skills development schemes.

The latest Labour Force Survey shows that employment is stable in the region
at 71.4 per cent, up by 0.6 per cent in 12 months. The seasonally adjusted
unemployment rate was down by 0.2 per cent to 5 per cent. The claimant count
also dropped. The survey reports that around 2.3 million people are employed in
the region and that there has been a rise in the number of self-employed

Like other growth areas in the UK the region is pitching itself as a
world-class business location with cities such as Leeds, Sheffield and York at
the forefront of this investment drive.

In the east of the region, Hull is one of the UK’s principle ports. One of
the main areas of development within the local economy has been the growth of
the service industries and retailing which now employ more people than

Lesley Hayhurst, branch secretary of the South Yorkshire branch of the
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which has around 2,000
members, says: "There are a lot of organisations around the area and some
good opportunities for HR professionals. House prices are reasonable, and
although there are plenty of towns and cities, you’re never too far away from
the countryside."

Hayhurst said HR is a real growth area because a great deal of cultural work
is being done as the region’s economy changes and develops.

"There’s a real challenge around culture change and that presents some
important roles for HR, and people coming into the profession."

Helen Thornton, chair of the 3,500 strong West Yorkshire branch of the CIPD,
which includes Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield and Dewsbury, reports major growth
across the area.

"There are lots of financial institutions now based in the region and
that sector has been growing in the past few years," she said. "The
public sector is another major employer, but the economy as a whole has a good

There is also support for HR professionals from the Northern Area
Partnership – an informal network of seven CIPD branches.

Sarah Attwell works as an HR assistant for Gamestation in York and is
currently studying for her CIPD qualification. She believes the area is a great
place to start a career in the profession because it’s so central in the UK
with good transport links.

"I think it depends on the company you work for to a certain extent. In
my experience training and support is available," she says.

Living in the region

Education: The Region in Figures
report by the Office for National Statistics shows that the pupil/teacher ratio
is slightly above the national average at primary schools on 22.7 (UK average
22.0) and secondary schools 16.9 (average 16.4) The Local Education Authority
spend per pupil and average class sizes are also around the national average.
Some 40.2 per cent of boys and 51.3 per cent of girls leave school with five or
more grade A-C GCSEs, and 29.2 per cent of boys and 36.6 per cent of girls pass
two or more A levels.

Transport: The area is connected to London and Scotland via the
East Coast railway which has a major station at York. There are also large
train stations at Leeds and Sheffield as well as an extensive local network.
Leeds/Bradford airport serves the area, but has limited routes. The M62, the M1
and a recent link to the A1 are the main roads.

Culture/lifestyle: Yorkshire is traditionally known for it’s
beautiful countryside and friendly people, but a new image of the area is
emerging. Traditional tourist hotspots such as York are now being complemented
by the vibrant, modern cities of Leeds, Sheffield and Hull.

Housing: According to figures from the Land Registry, the
average price of a house in the region is around £108,876. The average detached
property is £188,925 while a flat or maisonette will cost about £98,519. An
average semi will be £101, 639. York, North Yorkshire and East Riding are the
most expensive areas.

Company profile

First direct
Staff: 2,600
Based: Leeds

First Direct, part of the HSBC banking group, has been based in
Leeds since 1989. Jane Hanson, the organisational development manager said the
group was based in Leeds from its inception because the area offered several
key benefits.

"Initially, there was an available workforce and we needed
that because it was 24-hour opening with customers using the phone and the

"We felt the people here were suitable for the challenge
and research suggested that the [Yorkshire] accent was perceived as very
trustworthy," she said.

Hanson went on to explain that there were lots of young people
in the area and two very good universities to recruit from. Leeds was also seen
as an up-and-coming city with superb transport links to the rest of the country.

Hanson moved to the area four years ago and admits the
lifestyle had a big part to play in her decision. "It’s a really exciting
city and there have been lots of changes in the past few years. It’s probably a
bit of a clich‚, but people are much more friendly here. That really helps when
you’re trying to build a culture within an organisation," she says.

Move here for…


The area has three National Parks and its famous countryside
has featured in countless TV shows, such as Last of the Summer Wine and


Get the best seats at the annual CIPD conference in Harrogate

Sweet stuff

York is home to one of the UK’s largest confectionery factories

But beware of…


If Leeds United are relegated, as looks increasingly likely,
then there will be no Yorkshire representation in the Premier League

The Grit

The legendary hard-nosed Yorkshireman might scare’soft’


Even mentioning the place could start a second War of the Roses

HR contacts and local information

Regional development agency
Regional Assembly
North Yorkshire CIPD
West Yorkshire CIPD
South Yorkshire CIPD
Humber CIPD


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