Career focus: East Anglia

A region by region look at working in HR in the UK.  This month we investigate East Anglia.  Edited by Ross Wigham, e-mail: [email protected]

Eastern outpost is UK’s most dynamic IT hub

The most easterly part of England has often been seen as a leafy tourist
outpost, famous for its inland waterways and historical sites. However, its
stable local economy coupled with its proximity to London and the South East is
making East Anglia a popular choice for modern jobseekers.

The latest labour force survey figures from the Office for National
Statistics indicate that both employment and unemployment in the region are

Figures released in February show that employment has grown by 1.2 per cent
to 2.73m in the last three months. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate
was 3.5 per cent (98,000), down by 0.5 per cent on the same period a year ago.
And the average claimant count was unchanged at 2.1 per cent with the highest
figure in Great Yarmouth (5.4 per cent) and the lowest in South Cambridgeshire
and Uttlesford (0.8 per cent).

Neil Barlow, chair of the Mid and North Anglia branch of the Chartered
Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has been based in the region for
20 years.

He says the economy and jobs scene in the region has now reached a pivotal

"It’s at a peculiar stage at present because the recruitment freeze
seems to be over but there aren’t massive staff shortages. The building and
property sector is very healthy and so is local government and retail," he

According to Barlow, the market is predominantly made up of small to
medium-sized firms rather than huge corporate employers.

Based near Cambridge, Barlow says the IT sector is the most dynamic and healthy
in the area.

There are around 3,000 members in his CIPD branch with recruitment and
retention issues currently at the top of the agenda.

Salaries and benefits are crucial to HR professionals in the area because of
the rising house prices and the lure of higher pay in London and the South

"It’s a great place to work and we have few of the problems that London
often experiences, such as traffic and overcrowding. It’s a good mix because
there are cathedral cities and plenty of countryside. The quality of life is
very high.

"In general, it’s fairly easy for employers to recruit staff although
there are some shortages around particular specialisms."

The regional branch has a full programme of events scheduled for the rest of
the year including seminars on employment law, managing diversity, mental
health at work and coaching and mentoring.

The area is also home to many employees who commute into London, rather than
living in the capital itself.

Cambridge is of course famous for it’s prestigious university, but the area
is also home to the popular choiceof radical thinkers, the University of East

Living in the region


Statistics in the Region in Figures report from the Office for
National Statistics show that pupil/teacher ratios in the East of England are
slightly higher than the national average. However, the average class size is
below the national average at 26.1 for both primary and secondary schools. Some
50.1 of males and 60.8 per cent of females get five or more GCSEs – above the
national average.


Public transport, although adequate, is not as extensive as
other parts of the UK. Anglia Railways currently provides the train services
across Cambridge, Norwich and Ipswich. It also connects the area to London
although the franchise is due to change hands.

Norwich International Airport offers a selection of flights to
European destinations. National Express and First buses cover a range of routes
across the region.

The port of nearby Harwich has regular ferries cruising to The
Netherlands, Denmark and Germany.


The area is home to many nature reserves, country parks,
commons and picnic areas as well as a range of exciting waterways. Cathedral
cities and ancient history combine across the region to make it one of the most
pleasant places to live. The larger conurbations include Norwich, Ipswich,
Great Yarmouth and Cambridge.


According to official Land Registry figures, the average price
of a property in the region is £155,364. At the top end of the market an
average detached house will cost around £211,518 while at the opposite end of
the scale a flat/maisonette will sell for £100,630. The average price of a
semi-detached home is significantly cheaper than London or the South East at £134,984.

Company profile

Anglian Home Improvements
Staff: 4,400
Based: Norwich

The company, which manufactures and fits home improvement
products, was formed in Norfolk in 1966 and now operates nationwide. The head
office is based in Norwich and employs around 2,800 staff.

Retail division HR manager Kristina Clarke has worked in the
area since January, after relocating from Peterborough.

She moved to the region for family reasons and says the move
has been fulfilling in both personal and professional terms.

"I moved to Norfolk about a year ago and the area itself
is a great place to work. I’m really enjoying it and there’s plenty of
facilities. It also has a really good mix of town and county," she says.

"We recruit all types of staff as we have factories as
well as offices. It depends on the role, but on the whole it’s very comfortable
in terms of recruitment."

According to Clarke, the lack of major motorways can be a
downside but getting around and commuting to work are rarely problematic.

"We’re based on the outskirts of Norwich, but traffic is
usually fine.

"It’s a great place to work with a really enjoyable

Move here for…

Great surroundings
Fabulous coastline, hiking and rambling and 200 miles of inland waterways.

Culinary delights
TV favourite Delia Smith and turkey baron Bernard Matthews are two local

Cambridge is world renowned as a centre of learning

But beware of…

The area can be a little isolated

Alan Partridge
The brainchild of comedian Steve Coogan – so expect to be the butt of jokes if
you choose Norwich

That Sinking feeling…
Scientists predict that parts of the region could disappear into the sea. Many
parts are disappearing before your very eyes – Happisburgh, for instance.

HR contacts and local information

Comments are closed.