Vermont ‘brain drain’ worst in nation

The percentage of Vermont college graduates leaving the state is the highest in the nation, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce reports. Vermont must somehow retain students who come to Vermont but then go elsewhere to start their careers, the Chamber concludes.

Only about 35% of college grads stay in Vermont, compared to about 90% for #1 in the nation California. The report blames lack of stimulating job opportunities for the large number of college grads.

The Chamber Sept. 20 newsletter report is published verbatim below:

A recent Washington Post story, citing novel research using LinkedIn data that quantifies the brain drain (or gain) phenomenon across the country, has been getting a lot of attention here in the Green Mountain State. The data show Vermont to be the biggest loser which means we have the highest proportion of college graduates that leave compared to every other state.

Chart that shows proportion of college graduates staying or leaving a given state.

Why this isn’t a surprise.

Unlike national trends, Vermont colleges and universities are seeing a growing number of applicants and record enrollment. At the same time, K-12 enrollment in Vermont continues to steadily decline. This means an increasing proportion of our college students are coming from out-of-state and are less likely to stay. Whether a college graduate grew up in Vermont or came here from another state, they also need viable options stay. Graduates leave in pursuit of opportunities that are more abundant elsewhere.

Where are college graduates going?

States with large, dynamic, metropolitan hubs experience brain gain. Cities like San Francisco, New York, D.C., Boston, Atlanta, and Chicago have a very strong pull. These are areas that generally have a high cost of living, but the availability of entry-level opportunities that align with the skills and qualifications of recent graduates is a strong enough incentive to attract talent. Small, rural states that lack such opportunities lose out on the talent that they are producing.

What does this mean for Vermont?

Our current workforce shortage can’t be solved by simply retaining young Vermonters. Even if every high school graduate joined the workforce or attended a Vermont college and stayed after graduation, Vermont would still have a workforce shortage. The fact that so many out-of-state students have chosen to come to Vermont for their college education is encouraging! The critical next step is retaining talent and attracting graduates from other states too. This would address workforce issues and help to change the demographic mix of our state to be economically resilient.

About 40% of Vermonters age 25+ have a bachelor’s degree or higher. However, only 30% of the jobs in Vermont require a bachelor’s degree or higher

There’s an opportunity gap in Vermont which means many college graduates look elsewhere to launch their careers. Creating the conditions for businesses to grow can produce the missing opportunities and competitive wages that graduates are seeking.

They need a reason to choose Vermont that is more compelling than what major metro areas can offer.

Categories: Education

7 replies »

  1. Vermont has wonderful stone: our marble is uniquely fine, weathering very well to keep its translucent quality. It is used at the Lincoln, Jefferson, and other memorials in D.C.
    our granite build the bridges that are still us good shape, far superior to concrete.
    But the banker, JPMorgan and his friend Carnegie, offered cheaper concrete bridges. They rot in a short order needing replacement.
    It killed our quarry industry.
    The engineering knowledge has been lost, and there are no Federak funds for stone arch bridges.
    As the railroad in Vermont was built purposely to haul stone, it also died.
    By requiring stone bridges, we could expand the opportunity for local labor, engineering, new educational training, and rebuild rail traffic in Vt.
    The Dims have voted against this, saying they don’t want heavy industry in Vermont. They prefer to outsource cement production (energy intense and polluting) to other states while supporting the allegedly corrupt concrete industry.
    This could change if we got the idiots out of our government.
    Check these out:

  2. Ha! And of that 35% who stay, how many are lefties, Bernie-bots, junkies, or environmental studies majors? Like…all of them!

  3. Im a 5th generation Vermonter. I went to college in California. After graduating i decided to move back to Vermont. Never did find a job. Ive worked for myself (virtually unrelated to my degree) for over a decade. Vermont is a hard place to make a career. Diversity in income is key IMO.

  4. “30% of jobs require a degree.” This is a questionable statement unless those jobs are in the medical field. I believe that many of the jobs requiring a degree do not actually need a degree. Yes they do need education, from on the job experience, apprenticeship program, job specific courses, or self learning. As an example many engineering jobs are cookbook. Take codes, standards and common sense and apply them to design.

  5. As 45 stated – everything “woke” turns to s*%t. [S]Elections have consequences. The State is run by a bunch of insufferable malcontents and corrupted old stooges. The State has nothing to offer other than a life of indentured servitude, aka, debt bondage.

  6. Just look at the VT legislature so full of navel-gazing buffoons and poseurs, and you’ll see where the root of the problem lies, and how to begin attempting a fix.

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