Graduate options in the South West

Posted in: Finding a Job, Labour Market Intelligence

Have you enjoyed your time at Bath so much that you want to stay here for your next steps? Perhaps you’re local to the region or the South West more widely appeals. Read on to find out more about what graduate options you can find in the South West.

London is not the only option

Before we consider the South West – time to clear up a common misconception. You may think that most recent graduates head to London after university. However, graduate migration patterns are much more complex. Some graduates return to where they lived before university, while others stay in the town or region where they studied.

Prospects Luminate breaks it down into four categories:

  • Regional loyals: Lived in the area, studied in the area, remain in the area to work after graduation.
  • Regional returners: Lived in the area, moved to study and returned to the area to work after graduation.
  • Regional stayers: Move away to study and stay in the area they studied to work after graduation.
  • Regional incomers: Go to work after graduation in a region they didn’t study or live in.

This is an interesting thing to explore on a national level if you work in a Careers Service. But the main thing for you to care about on the individual level is that while going to London after graduation can be a common pathway, it is not the only one. There is no “right way” to locate your graduate job search. The locations of roles can be highly sector dependent, and you also want to consider where you might enjoy living too.

Job market in the Bath/Bristol area


Bath is a small city but there are graduate opportunities.

The biggest employers in Bath are in the education and health sectors. That is the two Universities (Bath and Bath Spa) and the NHS. A wealth of software development firms also base themselves in Bath as well as, publishing, advanced engineering, architecture and built environment firms. These vary from small companies with tens of employees to huge multi-national firms.

Bath Unlimited champion extraordinary businesses in Bath, look to see who they are supporting or have a look at the Invest in Bath website for further ideas.


Bristol is obviously a much larger city and has a variety of graduate opportunities. It is where most graduates working in the South West tend to end up.

Invest in Bristol + Bath lists key sectors for the region and lists specific companies for each sector. They have the key sectors as:

  • Aerospace and advanced engineering
  • Clean tech and energy
  • Creative and media
  • Digital and tech
  • Financial and professional services
  • Fintech
  • Food and drink innovation
  • Life sciences
  • Logistics and distribution

Industries in the South West

The South West isn’t just Bristol and Bath though. It includes Wiltshire, Devon, Cornwall, Gloucestershire and Dorset.

The major specialisms/growth areas in the South West:

  • Advanced Engineering which includes Aerospace (Bristol), Automotive (Swindon),
  • Measuring Instruments and Medical Devices (Gloucestershire)
  • Biotechnology, Biomedical and Healthcare (Bristol/Bath and Exeter/Plymouth)
  • Creative Industries (Bristol, Gloucestershire and Plymouth areas)
  • Environmental Technologies
  • Food and Drink (Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset)
  • Information Communication Technology (Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Bristol, Devon)
  • Leisure and Tourism
  • Marine (Devon, Cornwall and Dorset)

Gradsouthwest includes more detail about these sectors and offers graduate job listings for the region.

It's also worth saying that while these are key areas for the South West - they are not the only sectors. If you want to work in the South West in other sectors, there are still likely to be opportunities. Using our tips for finding opportunities can help you to research your options.

Finding opportunities

Much of our usual advice on finding jobs will apply if you are looking for jobs in the South West. An easy filter is to set the location to South West when searching on MyFuture or on big job searching sites. As previously mentioned Gradsouthwest is a good regional jobs board. If you are interested in the not-for-profit sector then it is worth checking out Voscur which is specifically for jobs in this sector in the Bristol area.

However, it is also worth doing your research into what companies are based in the region. If a particular organisation really appeals, it is worth regularly checking their own job listings to see what is coming up. A good 'hack' to get lists of STEM-related companies in the region is having a look at Science Park tenants. For example, check out Bristol & Bath Science Park, Exeter Science Park and Plymouth Science Park.

You can also try using the Library Database FAME which allows you to do advanced searching on all organisations in the UK. Filtering down by region and sector will give you a starting point of companies to explore. Find out more about Library Databases.

It is also worth making connections with alumni experts on Bath Connection who work in the region. Searching for alumni who work in the South West may give you ideas to explore, as well as providing excellent networking opportunities.

Final thought

We hope this gives you some ideas if you are looking to work in the South West. Remember your friendly Careers Service is here to support you with your career plans. You can book an appointment to discuss your plans whether you have a clear idea or are just beginning to think about things.

You can also email us via or request a call back by leaving a message on 01225 386009.

Posted in: Finding a Job, Labour Market Intelligence


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