Where are the young knowledge workers going? November 10, 2006Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Workforce.
Half of all college students in the Boston area leave after graduation, according to a 2003 [Greater Boston] chamber study, and 15.8 percent of the area’s 20- to 34-year-olds left between 1990 and 2000, a “brain drain” that became the catalyst for the [Chamber’s college graduate retention] program, the goal of which is to keep as many students here after graduation as possible.
The graduate exodus frustrates corporate leaders because those leaving would likely make high salaries and boost the area’s tax base. What’s worse, they say, is that many are leaving even though there are good jobs available.
Thirty percent of graduates leave the area for better jobs elsewhere, according to the study, but 47 percent leave either because of Boston’s exorbitant cost of living, or because they think other cities are just a better place to live.
This baffles me. Boston is perhaps THE higher education capital of America, with over 20 colleges and universities in its small geographic footprint. The Boston Foundation says that one in every four residents is a college student. Having lived out there, I can see Boston as being a place that should gain, as opposed to lose, post-collegiate workers. It is, as Michigan Governor Granholm would call it, a “Cool City.” But they leave. And the Boston Chamber is forced to conduct a graduate retention program.
[Side note: In finding the date from The Boston Foundation, I cam across this impressive report, “A New Era of Higher Education-Community Partnerships.” Enjoy!]
Other logical communities are in the same boat. The Columbus Chamber in Ohio is trying to figure out ways to retain a disproportional share of the graduates of America’s largest institution of higher education, creating a graduate retention program of its own. And Columbus is a pretty darned cool town for a young professional, much in the same way that Boston is.
So, let me ask out loud: Where in the world are these young professionals going? What communities are experiencing a net gain in young workers? Maybe this 2003 map from Choices Magazine could help explain:
This could be the top economic development issue of the decade.