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Oxford leading the way as the best place to live and work in the UK

Kate Allen, Managing Director, Allen Associates

We’ve been banging the drum about how great Oxford is for almost 20 years now; after all, this is the city we have chosen, and in which, we have grown our business to become what it is today. Now it seems the city we know and love has been recognised as the “fastest improving” place to live and work in the UK.

According to the Good Growth for Cities index for 2017 by PwC, Oxford comes out top when benchmarked against the number of new jobs created, the income levels of its populace, as well as their skills development. This is ahead of Reading, Southampton, Edinburgh and Bristol, which make up the rest of the top five.

The index also considers other factors such as average commute times, housing affordability, and the number hours the average worker in each location spends at work each month. With economic growth traditionally centred around London and the South East, these figures confirm what we have seen taking place throughout Oxfordshire over the course of the last 12-18 months.

Indeed, the latest unemployment figures for our region show that the number of people out of work is at its lowest level of around 3.6% - below the national average of 4.5%. Yet demand both for jobs and the services we provide has remained consistently high for two main reasons.

First is that while there may be more people in work than ever before, businesses continue to grow. To remain competitive and meet the demand for their products and services, they need people – good people.

Second, with fewer people on the jobs market thanks to record-high employment, it is getting harder for Employers to find those people. While their existing talent pools may have served them well two or three years ago, the shift in the market has since seen that pool dry up; hence, the need to procure the services of a Recruitment agency with a larger network of potential candidates.

So, what does 2018 hold for Oxford and the surrounding region?

Open the pages of any media over the last month and the messages as to how the year will pan out are rather mixed. Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer didn’t exactly fill us with much confidence during his Budgetary Statement. Similarly, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said it expected UK growth to worsen over the next two years. Not much hope to hang one’s hat on… is there? But wait, we think there is.

Forecasts can be – and often are – wrong. Three years ago, the Office for Budgetary Responsibility was forced to revise its economic forecast upwards – twice – because they had underestimated the strength of the recovery. It was the same for our sector too.

Growth within the recruitment industry in 2016 was spectacular to say the least, and many commentators suggested that at best this would plateau… more likely, that it would see a fall. However, the latest industry figures obtained from Companies House in December show that not only was this growth sustained, it increased by an incredible 28%.

Of course, no one can predict with certainty what will happen next, but we can be sure that, irrespective of how well (or not) the economy will perform over the next 12 months, there will always be opportunities for the right people to find the right roles with the right employers.

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