Birmingham's brain drain - and the highest ever levels of student debt - could be solved if business and students could work closer together, it has been claimed.
At present the West Midlands is the fourth worst region in the country for graduate retention, with only 11.3 per cent of people choosing to stay after they qualify.
Undergraduates can chalk up debt of up to £25,000 during their education which puts a strain on them once they have graduated.
According to professional employment agency Katie Bard, it sees some of the brightest business talent leaving the city to return to their original home.
Verity Stokes, of Katie Bard, said: "It's a common theme. Young people come here to do their degree and once they have graduated they would be a great asset to the Birmingham economy.
"But the debt they have accrued during their university life means they feel they have to go back to mum and dad to stabilise themselves.
"It means the city is suffering a severe brain drain which is obviously of detriment to Birmingham."
Ms Stokes, whose views have received backing from Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, said city businesses as well as undergraduates could all do more to improve the situation.
"There are opportunities for part time work for under-graduates but not enough. Those students who put themselves out to get work during college will definitely reap the benefits later.
"The money they make will, of course, make things easier during their university career and will also help to pay fees.
"But, just as importantly, they will gain knowledge of an office environment and will pick up key skills that will put them ahead of their peers when they are looking for a job.
"The knock-on effect from all of that will be that they will not feel the need to head back home after university as business in the city will seem much less daunting."
Kasia Kurowska, policy officer at the Chamber, said: "We have for some time been concerned by the city's declining graduate population.
"The results of a recent Chamber survey found that 58 per cent of business respondents had an issue with recruitment, with 50 per cent specifying graduate recruitment as a major problem.
"The quality of graduate skills is also constantly criticised by business, both employability skills as well as numeracy and literacy. We would urge graduates to ensure they have work experience, which demonstrates their generic skill levels.
"The challenge for Birmingham businesses is to now become more pro-active in seeking undergraduates and graduates who could be potential employees." n Employers have reported a sharp fall in the shortage of skilled workers, according to a new report.
A survey of 74,500 employers by the Learning and Skills Council showed that the number with a skills gap had fallen from 22 per cent to 16 per cent in the past few years.
David Way, director of skills at the council, said: "The findings are good news for business, employees, and the economy.
"The report demonstrates that businesses recognise the importance of skills and are investing significantly in training and development to increase their productivity for competitive advantage."
Skills Minister Phil Hope said: "The hard work of all our partners in learning and skills along with the significant investments being made by employers is beginning to pay off.
"But we know we have a real skills challenge ahead if we are to improve productivity and compete successfully in a global economy."