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The South West is largely rural but includes the cities of Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth and Bath. Key employment sectors include the creative industries, aerospace, tourism and IT.

In and around the South West | The cost of living in the South West | Getting work in the South West area

The South West is the largest region in England, stretching from Gloucestershire and Wiltshire to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. It has traditionally been associated with Cheddar cheese, Devon cream teas and cider but is probably now equally well known for being the home of the Glastonbury festival and Cornwall's surfing beaches.

Bristol is host to a range of festivals, gigs and other events all year round. Many of its bars are quirky and individual and its shops are often exclusive to the city. Bath also offers a range of shopping and nights out. Exeter has a large student population and an arts scene. The city of Plymouth, sandwiched between Devon and Cornwall, is an important naval base.

The train service connecting the major cities of the south west to London is fast and direct and can get you from Exeter to Paddington in just over two hours. The M4 motorway is a particularly busy road link, connecting Bristol and London. There are airports in Bristol, Bournemouth, Exeter and Newquay, offering a wide range of domestic and European flights. Bristol Airport also offers international flights.

In and around the South West

The South West's varied countryside makes it a great place for outdoorsy types as well as a draw for tourists, with more than 630 miles of coastline, national parks at Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor and the Eden Project in Cornwall. Activity centres for climbing, water sports and so on are dotted around the area and there are opportunities for trekking, mountain-biking, horse riding, golf, skydiving and even off-road driving if you fancy it.

Each year Bristol hosts the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. Hundreds of unusually shaped hot air balloons are launched into the sky over four days. The Harbour Festival is also held annually, providing music, dance and circus entertainment. Exeter hosts various seasonal festivals and also has a regular farmers' market, and Plymouth hosts a number of high-profile events including the British Fireworks Championships and the Flavour Fest food and drink festival.

There are plenty of bars and clubs in the major cities, due in part to their student communities. There's also plenty of cultural life. You could take in an independent film at the Watershed in Bristol, watch a play at Exeter's Northcott Theatre or check out the Tate Gallery in St Ives. If you fancy some sightseeing followed by a spot of pampering, visit the Roman Baths in Bath and test the waters for yourself at the Thermae Bath Spa.


The cost of living in the South West

There is a shortage of affordable housing in the South West, but there are local initiatives in place to increase the amount of real estate being developed and coming to the market.

House and rental prices vary. Houses in the region cost an average of £245,517. If you aspire to rent a flat in Bristol, expect to pay around £1000 a month or around £700 a month in Cornwall.


Getting work in the South West

There are many multinational businesses operating in the south west, including J.P. Morgan, HP, Toshiba, EE, Airbus and Rolls-Royce. The Met Office is based in Exeter and the GCHQ (Government Communications Head Quarters) offices are in Cheltenham. The region is also an important base for the Royal Marines.

Key sectors in the South West include: aerospace, the creative industries, food and drink, biomedical, technology, marine and tourism.

Below is a brief list of some of the graduate recruiters in the region. (Note: these companies may not be currently recruiting. Their names have been provided as a guideline to the type of work available and areas to look in.)

  • EE, Bristol (commercial; business, procurement; customer service; retail operations; HR; performance; legal; brand and marketing; digital; finance; sales; technology). Telecommunications operator offering opportunities for graduates across a range of careers.
  • Met Office, Exeter (science; technology; IT; engineering; customer and stakeholder management; corporate services; forecasting and observation). Provider of environmental and weather-related services, through broadcasters and online media to: the general public, government and schools, civil aviation and other sectors.
  • J.P. Morgan, Bournemouth (finance; management accountancy; global investment management; global wealth management; human resources; investment banking; operations; risk; technology). J.P. Morgan is the largest private sector employer in Dorset, with 4,000 employees working at its global technology and operations centre in Bournemouth.
  • Rolls-Royce, Bristol (engineering; operations management; supply chain management; customer management; HR; commercial; project management; health, safety and environment). Engineering and technology company operating in the civil and defence aerospace, marine and energy markets.
  • GCHQ, Cheltenham (mathematics and cryptography; advanced technology research; technology and engineering; information assurance; language analysts; network security specialists; IT; analysis; corporate services; project management; information management; ex-GCHQ and ex-military; graduate leadership development) GCHQ – the Government Communications Head Quarters – is a key part of the UK's intelligence and security service. Along with MI5 AND MI6, its role is to counter threats to British people and interests.
  • Airbus, Bristol (engineering; manufacturing engineering; supply chain logistics; finance; IT; communications; HR). Airbus is an aircraft manufacturer, developing producing and supporting airliners seating from 100-500 passengers. It has also expanded into the military transport sector.

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Browse vacancies and graduate jobs in the south west


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