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Young professionals step up in Tulsa June 27, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Stronger Organizations.

Not every workforce or economic development initiative needs millions of taxpayer dollars to implement.  Often, the effort only needs to bring like-minded people together for a common purpose.

Many communities are doing just that, building formal networks of young professionals as a means to stem brain drain and encourage civic involvement from Robert Strauss and Neil Howe’s “13th Gen.”  Without trying hard, I can think of such programs in Fort Wayne and South Bend, Indiana and Columbus, Ohio.

Tulsa, Oklahoma has a similar organization, YP Tulsa.  UrbanTulsa.com offers a fantastic write-up on this new group and also offers some general background on the young professional trend:

Why do communities develop young professional groups? Why do they spend the time targeting young professional groups? The answer is simple: times are changing and so is the workforce.
For starters, traditional industries such as manufacturing are downsizing, relocating, and even closing, according to YP Commons Web site. While the traditional industries have declined, new industries like the technology and business services are growing.
Younger generations, generally the Generation Xers, those born between 1961 and 1981, are driving the new economy, the site continued.
“Fully 56 percent of all computer programmers are Gen Xers, and four out of five new businesses are started by women, Gen Xers and minorities,” the site said. “To grow an innovation-based regional economy, cities must attract young professionals.”
This is where problems can arise. YP Commons said there are fewer Generation Xers in the workforce compared to the Baby Boomer Generation, those born between 1942 and 1960. There are roughly 51 million Generation Xers where as there are 76 million Baby Boomers. So employers are looking at smaller employee pool.
Even more, the new generation of professionals believes in living first and working second, according to the Web site, explaining that they pick where they want to live then find a job.

The purpose of a young professional group is to connect individual young professionals as well as connecting them to the community.

The website referred to in the quote is www.ypcommons.org – a site listing over 150 young professional groups around the country.  Most of them are just one or two years old.  If you’re under 40 and want to dial in to your community, that site looks like a good place to start.



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