Council leader reiterates support for Wakefield to become a university city

Coun Peter Box.
Coun Peter Box.

Wakefield Council Leader, Coun Peter Box CBE, has reiterated his support for Wakefield to become a university city – after a report stated that thousands of talented young people are leaving the district each year to study for degrees and other high level qualifications.

‘The Great British Brain Drain: Where Graduates Move and Why’ by Centre for Cities, says that Wakefield has the fourth largest number of young people outside London moving out of their area to attend colleges and universities.

Between 2014 and 2016 as many as 6,180 young people left the Wakefield district to study elsewhere.

Wakefield also continues to lose graduates because of greater opportunities for career progression elsewhere.

Coun Box said: “For a long time young people with ambitions to achieve higher level qualifications have needed to study outside the district.

“That is one of the reasons why we firmly aspire to become a university city and have worked so hard to bring the University Centre to Wakefield.

“We want to give our young people the opportunity to study here. This will not only help individuals - it will also help our district by having a greater proportion of our workforce with higher level skills, which will drive forward economic growth to benefit everyone.”

The report says if a city wants to attract and retain a greater number of graduates, then it needs to focus on wider economic growth and job creation policies that support the creation of high-skilled knowledge jobs.

Coun Box added: “We do need to attract more highly skilled businesses and jobs to the area and it is vital that our local employers continue to invest in raising skill levels.”

As part of the aspiration for Wakefield to become a university city, the Council has been a key driver to bring a University Centre to the district.

With support from the Council, £3.3m funding was secured by Wakefield College in November 2015.

The first stage of the development is the Advanced Skills and Innovation Centre. The £7m centre will support Wakefield’s aspirations to improve higher level skills in key growth sectors.

The Centre will provide higher level provision to young adults across the district and support businesses, allowing them to access graduates and degree level training for their workforce.