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The Growth of Manchester as a Talent Hotspot

Posted June 6, 2024

In one of our recent Talent Insights Reports, we highlighted the trend that a number of global businesses had opted to relocate their business services teams to the North, and specifically Manchester, as a step towards lowering the cost of hire, whilst maintaining a high calibre workforce.

In this article, we look more closely at these trends UK wide and across a wider spectrum of skill sets, whilst looking at where some of these decisions originate from.

The rise of ‘near shoring’

“North shoring” is a term that really became popular in the early 2000s, in 2004 the BBC announced plans to move out of London with the current Salford Quays site being announced in 2006 – this then fuelled the growth of Media City.

We’ve since had the phenomenon of “near shoring”, with businesses choosing places such as Manchester, Bristol and Leeds to base their business support operations away from the prime locations of London.

Moves to the Northern Powerhouse

New entrants to the UK market are starting to pit the likes of London, Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester against each other to balance the quality of available candidates, cost of hire, cost of offices and quality of life. Whilst many are still laser focused on London as the only viable location to set up shop, Manchester is often coming out on top.

These trends are backed up by the “quality of life” stats provided by Numbeo, with London and Manchester achieving similar scores and both locations appealing with regards to purchasing power, healthcare availability and, perhaps surprisingly, property price to income ratio (, May 2024).

There has also been a real push in a focus on investment for businesses based outside of London, with some specifically set up to focus on investing in companies in the North of England. This is also backed by the recently launched Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund II.


Our research has shown (as per the table above) that there are a large amount of people who are leaving the capital and moving to other cities, with Manchester being the most popular.  Interestingly the amount of people heading to Manchester is almost double that of Bristol, home to the second highest number of professionals leaving London. A clear indication that Manchester is becoming a hot spot for talent.

The appeal of Manchester for candidates and companies

We spoke to Deborah Walker, Head of Inward Investment for Financial, Professional and Business Services at MIDAS for her take on why Manchester and the surrounding areas in the North are becoming so appealing. She commented that:

“Greater Manchester continues to be a magnet for global firms looking to consolidate corporate or shared services or scale operations, particularly when access to qualified professionals, technology or cyber skills are a prerequisite.  These businesses want to be sure that as well as choosing a location which makes good sense economically, their workforce will be happy, so Manchester’s investment in talent is especially appealing.  We’re seeing almost 50% of its diverse, young and multi-lingual graduates – for whom lifestyle is just as important – choosing to stay here beyond their studies. Manchester is a creative and collaborative city and new investors quickly discover that here is where they can enhance the customer experience through leveraging skills and talent from the creative industries that surround them.”

Commenting on the rise of companies moving to Manchester to open offices along with the rise in competitiveness and desirability in Manchester office space, Joe Averill, Managing Director and Founder of Level, a company that provides bespoke workspace solutions for tenants across various sectors and size, noted:

There is a “flight to quality” in Manchester’s office market right now (an increasing trend in real estate whereby businesses are willing to pay higher prices for premium spaces) as businesses look to select office spaces with higher levels of amenity and flexibility. We’re seeing this happening across start-up’s/SME’s, scales ups and enterprise clients. Due to demand, there is over 200,000sq ft of new flexible workspace launching in Manchester between now and the end of 2025. Businesses here are adopting more hybrid and flexible working models, and so want spaces where they can connect with others in a community, receive a high level of service, take the hassle out of moving offices, work in diverse and collaborative ways and operate in a building that offers high levels of amenity for their people.”

Talent Growth in the North

Data from LinkedIn Talent Insights shows us that there has been growth and migration across multiple industries for Manchester, with many of these candidates coming from London.

This table shows the increase/decrease in the number of professionals within each of the key markets over the past 12 months between London and Manchester.

Here we can see that there has been significant growth within Cyber Security, Data and Cloud & Infrastructure, with many of these candidates are now based in or working from the North.


In conclusion, it is clear to see that many talented individuals across multiple professional sectors are relocating to the North from London, with a specific focus on Manchester and its surrounding boroughs as a place to work.

The increase in available investment, office space and out of work activities in the area makes it a desirable location for companies and candidates alike, and I expect to see these trends persist and the continuation of the rise of Manchester as a talent hot spot.

As the Regional Director for the North at Sanderson, I am passionate about Manchester and the surrounding areas as offering viable opportunities for many businesses.

Could Manchester be the place for you to set up your next regional office? If you would like to discuss talent opportunities in the North for you and your business, please do reach out to me at [email protected].