It's a classic chicken-or-egg conundrum: Which comes first, the educated work force or the jobs?
"I'm seeing my friends moving away," said Chuck Bahr, a 2001
Bahr, who's completing his fifth year at
He enjoyed growing up in
"You get the feeling things are deteriorating, that there's not much happening," he said.
The "brain drain" problem has baffled regional states for decades. According to the Fed Gazette, a publication of the Federal Reserve Bank of
No hard figures track the migration of college graduates in the
TRYING TO STAY
Uphoff said the job market is the best in the past four years. Nonetheless, demand exceeds supply for high-paying positions requiring college-level education.
"It's going to be a very competitive market for grads," he said. "There'll be so many folks who have been unemployed for so long" seeking those positions.
To help younger people maneuver that market, the Duluth Young Professionals group was launched in March with hopes of attracting a younger work force to the Twin Ports. It's part of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce.
"The whole concept is not to create an exclusive group," said founder Jennifer Wiczek-Bertsch, but a place "where younger people can get together and plug into a community that exists."
Their e-mails are distributed to about 400 members. The group came up with stickers that read: "I'm young, I live in
Wiczek-Bertsch is perplexed that people have the perception there are no local jobs. She talks with several business representatives each week, and always hears about new job openings or hirings. Duluth Young Professionals stresses networking techniques to identify those jobs and use the best of one's ability to get them.
"We just want to make sure the young people stay," she said, "and that the choice to stay looks really good to them."
Graduating students should be patient, said Craig Chilcote, chairman of the civic
For Alicia Hudelson, a 2001
"My main problem with
Hudelson would be one of the students who are graduating with more skills than are needed for local jobs, but would end up underemployed.
EXTRA EFFORT REQUIRED
Janet Pribyl, assistant director of UMD career services, said most UMD students are from the Twin Cities and choose to return home. She said if students want to remain in
"The jobs are here, but students have to work to find them and get them," she said.
Pribyl has been able to steer students in the direction of technology-related industries such as Cirrus, service industries such as retail or hotels, or the health-care industry. At UMD campus job fairs, she's never heard of local employers having problems hiring. Like Wizcek-Bertsch, she believes students think there are simply no jobs out there, but only for specific fields.
Her office, however, does not keep records of where graduates find employment. Associate UMD professor Erik Peterson, northern
But he can relate stories of going-away parties for bright students who wanted to stay in the area but simply couldn't. The jobs that may exist in
"What, as a city, are we doing in conjunction with the university to give people who have good ideas a chance to grow in
Peterson said young grads help boost the local economy by providing a cultural element that can make a city look attractive to the entire work force.
"The group of students graduating from college -- those are the folks thinking up and dreaming up the Google search engines -- Yahoo, the Microsoft of the future," he said.
"It's a challenge, because all the cities are doing the same thing," Kramer said.
Kramer had one more option in building a stronger work force: grow your own. He said encouraging area people in the area to earn two- or four-year degrees would make the city attractive to companies because of its skilled workers.
"It's a big selling point to businesses," he said. "Your best prospects are the customers you already have."