Putting a stop to ‘brain drain’

Miranda L. Pennock 09/16/08More articles
Finding ways to reduce the number of young professionals who leave Central New York is more difficult than it sounds.
But, in searching for a way to stop the exodus, members of the Assembly gathered with professionals from area businesses and educational institutions on Sept. 10 at the Welch Allyn Lodge in Skaneateles Falls. The think tank allowed for Assemblymen Jack Quinn, R,C,I-Hamburg, Will Barclay, R,C,I-Pulaski, and Joseph Giglio, R,I,C-Gowanda, to hear ideas on retaining youth from more than 20 people, including young professionals who have remained in Central New York or left the area and come back.
Barclay, a father of two under the age of 10, said that when he ran for Assembly, he did so on a platform with his children in mind.
“I wanted to make sure there was opportunity for them,” he said, adding that enough has not been done to retain the young people in Central New York.
By bringing the RemaiNY taskforce to the area, there was hope to tackle issues that young professionals are dealing with.
“We get our best ideas from you,” Giglio said to the group. “We will hopefully come up with some ideas on how to stop the brain drain.”
For Quinn, coming from the Buffalo area, it was interesting to see that so many of the issues being dealt with in his district are also being dealt with in Central New York and the Southern Tier. According to Quinn it’s his generation of adults and young adults, the 20- and 30-somethings, who are leaving New York in search of careers and better economic situations.
“In developing a solution, the solution has to be something that’s practiced,” said Jack Boyce, director of staffing solutions at Welch Allyn. “The issue is, perception is reality.”
According to Boyce, there are more than 22,000 job openings within a 100-mile radius of Syracuse and its surrounding communities. However, “it’s 22,000 jobs students aren’t interested in.”
According to Census data, 22 percent of all New Yorkers between the ages of 20 and 34 moved out of the state between 1990 and 2000. Many young families and recent college graduates often face having to choose between leaving the state to pursue careers or staying in their hometowns and dealing with problems like high property taxes, high cost of living and lack of affordable housing.
Like many at the table, Ben Walsh, 29, is a young professional in Central New York. As the Director of Urban Initiatives for the CNY Metropolitan Development Agency, Walsh said internships are a direct way to connect college students with employers.
According to Walsh, the state has been helpful in setting up internship programs such as the ‘I Live New York’ initiative spearheaded by Silda Spitzer.
“One of the components she was pushing for was a statewide internship database,” Walsh said.
Paul Roodin, director of experience-based education and professor of psychology at SUNY Oswego, agreed that internships are “a wonderful source for students” and that when they are matched with an internship it increases the students’ marketability and can be listed on their professional resume.
“My perception of Central New York is students want to stay in Central New York,” said Pamela Cox, associate dean of the school of business at SUNY Oswego. “The students say, ‘We tried. We can’t find anything. We’re moving on.’”
According to Cox, there needs to be a creation of culture for young professionals that they might be exposed to early on.
“It’s not festivals that we need,” said Hanah Ehrenreich, project coordinator with CNY Works. “The 20 to 34 demographic, they want nightlife, nice communities, vibrant communities.”
While jobs are important, people will seek out jobs if they see a community that is vibrant, Ehrenreich added.
Walsh said he recently purchased his first home in Central New York, and with that purchase came the first time he thought about property taxes.
“I wanted a good job and a cool place to live,” he said.
According to Quinn, young professionals are going to bigger cities where there is more culture, people and single people their age — essentially to vibrant communities.
At the close of the two-hour forum, Quinn remarked that one of the things to come out of the forums the taskforce is heading up is communication between professionals and government officials.
Throughout the forum, the Assemblymen took notes and also tape-recorded the discussion. Barclay said he usually takes the ideas from those involved in a forum and then tries to translate them into a usable format.
“I got some great ideas from this event,” Barclay said.

Miranda L. Pennock/ Assemblymen Joseph Giglion, left, and Will Barclay listen to ideas during the RemaiNY forum Sept. 10 at the Welch Allyn Lodge in Skaneateles Falls.

CATEGORY: General Society
EDITION: Skaneateles Press

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