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Graduate survey sheds light on decision to live and work in Island

Monday, 5 February 2018

A survey of Manx graduates has highlighted key factors which influence young adults to return to the Island after their studies, to help grow the Manx economy.

The survey carried out in 2017 put questions on residency and employment to graduates who received student grants from the Department of Education, Sport and Culture (DESC) over a four year period.

Responses were split between those who completed their studies in 2017 and those who graduated in earlier years.

Results in several areas were compared with a similar survey carried out in 2004.

The 2016 Isle of Man Census raised concerns fewer graduates were returning to the Island than in previous years, and was a catalyst for the latest research. The Census showed a fall of 8% in the economically active population, and the sharpest population decrease in the 20-24 age group.

The survey explored graduate decision-making about returning to the Island, and incentives which would increase the number of qualified young people starting their working lives here. 

Minister for DESC Graham Cregeen MHK said:

‘This survey provides valuable insights into factors which influence graduates to return to the Island after university, and offers pointers for the provision of higher education and graduate employment opportunities in the future.’

‘There is a recognised skills shortage in several areas of the Manx economy, including growth employment sectors such as ICT. We will use the study to ensure more Manx graduates benefit from these opportunities, enhancing the professionalism and reputation of the Island’s workforce.’   

He added:

‘The findings will help meet aims of the Programme for Government, to create a sustainable island which nurtures enterprise and opportunity.’

Returning graduates – key finding: The 2017 survey has produced no evidence of a reduction in graduates who return, or intend to return, compared to 2004.

Results show around 45% of graduates in each of the two 2017 survey groups live in the Isle of Man or want to return as soon as possible.

Reasons for returning - key finding: The three main reasons given for returning to the Island after graduation have remained the same across all three survey groups.

When asked to rank 12 factors, respondents in each survey group named the below as their reasons:

  • My family live in the Isle of Man
  • Safe environment
  • I like the lifestyle/environment

Reasons for not returning – key finding: Employment-related factors were most often cited in the 2017 survey as reasons for not returning to the Island or living elsewhere.

Poor career prospects were cited by 38% of the 2017 graduate cohort, and a similar percentage said their chosen profession was not available.

Employment factors – key finding: A clear demand among graduates for greater career, training and study opportunities on the Island has emerged from the survey.

The high number of business, finance and accounting graduates returning to the Island reflects employment opportunities in this traditional sector. Those who studied science, engineering, medicine and health who require a wide range of professional experience early in their career, were less likely to return. 

Based on the data, the survey suggests two strategies may provide incentives for Manx graduates to return to the Island and contribute to the economy:

  • A graduate recruitment service to secure graduate jobs, in partnership with employers
  • Increased further study opportunities on-Island, including ‘learn and earn’ internships

Further analysis of the results will be carried out in 2018 alongside follow-up consultation with respondents.

The Manx Graduate Survey Report is available.

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