Living and working in the West Midlands

Located right in the centre of the UK, the West Midlands is a vibrant and diverse region. From the lively and cosmopolitan city of Birmingham to the rural western counties of Shropshire and Herefordshire and the Staffordshire Moorlands area in the north, this really is an excellent place to live and work.

The West Midlands was the birthplace of the industrial revolution and has a long history in manufacturing. Nowadays, the region is home to many well-known manufacturing companies such as Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin, Cadbury and JCB plus a wide range of businesses in the automotive and aerospace supply-chain. There are also plenty of cultural and creative industries within the West Midlands. All of these companies offer exciting employment opportunities.  

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Learning, travel and trade

The West Midlands contains 12 universities, seven of which are located in Birmingham. The University of Birmingham is the main university in the region and along with the University of Warwick, it receives a large research grant. Over 40% of the students at the regions universities are from the area and once graduated, almost 60% of graduates stay in the region.

The area is well connected to the motorway network and with Birmingham located at the centre of the national railway network, practically everywhere in England can be reached within two hours. In addition, Birmingham Airport connects the region with the rest of the UK and offers international flights to destinations across Europe, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, North America and the Caribbean.

The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) attracts businesses and consumers alike to the region. Hosting over 160 trade and consumer exhibitions every year, the NEC is the busiest exhibition centre in Europe. Events range from world-famous shows such as Crufts and Clothes Show Live to international trade exhibitions like IPEX and Spring Fair, Birmingham. The Genting Arena, located on the NEC site, plays host to large international touring acts and welcomes over 3 million visitors each year.

Apart from Greater London, The West Midlands is the only region in England which is completely landlocked. However, the area is traversed by a number of waterways, including the Severn, the longest river in the UK and a whole network of canals, many of which were built at the height of the industrial revolution. The Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) system adds up to 100 miles of canals alone.

The great outdoors

Outside of work, the area offers a wide range of activities to keep you busy. There’s so much to see and do. Birmingham City offers everything and more that you would expect from a large, ethnically diverse city. You can learn how to make chocolate at the working Cadbury factory, shop in the Bull Ring and Mailbox, browse in the Jewellery Quarter or visit one of the many museums across the city. You can also enjoy theatre, dance, comedy and music at one of the many venues across the city.

If history is more for you, Warwick castle provides a thousand years worth of myths, legendary tales and royal visits. While Stratford-upon-Avon, home of the world’s most famous playwright, William Shakespeare, still has many of the half-timbered medieval buildings that Shakespeare himself would have known, for you to explore. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre welcomes the stars of stage and screen to perform world-renowned plays all year round.

More recent history can be found at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ironbridge Gorge, which is widely recognised as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. The Black Country Living Museum offers a unique open-air village to fully explore. An amazing experience where history is literally brought to life, showing you exactly what life used to be like in days gone by.  

For those seeking the great outdoors, there are plenty of places to go. The region encompasses five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Wye Valley, Shropshire hills, Cannock Chase, Malvern Hills, and parts of the Cotswolds.

Cannock Chase and Wyre Forest offer fantastic outdoor activities. Flying down zip wires and leaping off Tarzan Swings and high-rope obstacles in some of Britain’s most breathtaking scenery. Another adrenaline rush can be found at the indoor ski slope at Tamworth. Closer to Birmingham, Sutton Park offers the largest urban park in Europe, while Cannon Hill Park is home to the Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park and Midlands Arts Centre  

The region also boasts everything you can imagine in terms of sporting interests.

The area provides a world stage for golf. The Belfry is the home of the Professional Golfers' Association and has hosted the Ryder Cup more times than any other venue. The Forest of Arden Hotel and Country Club is also a regular host of tournaments on the PGA European Tour, including the British Masters and the English Open.

The Edgbaston Cricket Ground, which hosts Test matches and One Day Internationals, is home to the Warwickshire County Cricket Club. Tennis was also pioneered in Edgbaston in 1859 and Britain's first tennis club was founded in 1872 in Leamington Spa, where the modern rules of lawn tennis were developed in 1874 by Leamington Tennis Club.

The football stadiums of Aston Villa, Birmingham City, West Bromwich Albion, Coventry City and Wolverhampton Wanderers can all be found in the West Midlands. World class rugby team, Wasps can be found at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry and the Worcester Warriers at the Sixways Stadium in Worcester.

Food and drink

If all this running around makes you hungry, the wide variety of foods from traditional and overseas kitchens in the West Midlands won’t disappoint.

Traditional food such as Shrewsbury cakes, which are large, round shortbread with rose flavouring can be easily found. Shropshire’s best-known dish, Fidget Pie; made from a combination of ham, apples, onions, cider and cheese, has made a welcome comeback since the TV chefs the Hairy Bikers visited Ludlow in 2009. Meanwhile, pork scratchings, the snack of the working classes, are fast moving away from their historical patronage as a “Black Country pub snack” to become a highly desirable product in bars, restaurants and gastropubs.

Another old-fashioned British food commonly associated with Birmingham and the Midlands is faggots. Cheap and nutritious, faggots are traditionally served with mushy peas, mashed potatoes and onion gravy.

Birmingham is also famous for its Balti Triangle. The balti was brought to Birmingham in the mid 1970s by the city’s large Pakistani and Kashmiri communities. It rapidly became a favourite dish across all communities and there are now over 50 balti restaurants and takeaways in the Balti Triangle.

With the exciting employment opportunities, a great mixture of old and new and plenty of great food, why wouldn’t you want to live in the West Midlands? 

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