Graduates: time to head home to Burnley

It’s only a few short months since The Economist declared Burnley a “decaying town” and suggested “some towns cannot be preserved. Save their inhabitants instead.”

Since then Burnley has gone on to be declared the most enterprising town in the country, investment is pouring in left, right and centre with projects such as the Burnley Business Park, Warburtons planning to spend £20m. on a new bakery and the rail link to Manchester opening in a few months. These are not the typical signs of a decaying town.

It feels like Burnley is on the cusp of starting a new chapter in its lengthy history, though to fuel that growth the town needs to bring in bright young minds who have the money to spend in its shops, cafes and restaurants. It is now more than ever that Burnley needs its graduates to come back.

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Year after year some of Burnley’s brightest young talent leave town to go and study at university, yet so few of us return after our three years at university. The thought of going back to Burnley is often a bit of a joke, there’s a perception there are no jobs, there’s nothing to do and very little future for building careers.

In the not-so-distant past this may have been true, but things are pretty quickly changing. National newspapers like The Sunday Times are describing Burnley as “a first-time buyer’s Shangri-la” and the soon to open Manchester rail link will bring the town ever closer to the glamour of the big city and more importantly its prosperous jobs market for graduates of all trades.

Perhaps now is the time for Burnley Council, and in some ways Burnley’s parents, to try to persuade those of us who grew up in the town that things are changing for the better, and now is the time to be a part of Burnley’s new chapter and to head home.

Matthew Paiton