More than 50 attendees from across professional sectors – including education, nonprofits, corporations, and health care – came together for the Stay in New Hampshire Strategy Breakfast hosted by Antioch University New England (AUNE) on November 18th. Participants gathered to address the problem posed by keynote speaker, Executive Director of Stay Work Play-New Hampshire Kate Luczko, that young professionals between the ages of 25 and 35 are leaving the state at too high of a rate. How can we get these young adults to stay? Representatives from the New Hampshire Business of Social Responsibility and the Keene Young Professionals Network were also in attendance.
As an Antioch student, and a New Hampshire native, this event was of special pertinence to me. I can personally attest to the positive impact that the quality of life in New Hampshire has made on me. I treasure my childhood growing up hiking, skiing, canoeing, camping and roaming the White Mountains. After spending some time traveling in college and beyond, now upon returning to New England it feels like the place that I want to be. However, as I look forward to graduating in 2012, I, like many of my classmates, share some anxiety about finding jobs in the future.
For me, the event was a hopeful one. The discussion was facilitated in a World Cafe style with Net Impact members, students, and professionals encouraging the conversations as table hosts. It was inspiring to see members from across sectors engage and bounce ideas off one another; one message stood out: despite the challenges, young professionals and employers have an interest in working together to make New Hampshire an attractive location for young workers to stay. It was a joy to see thoughtful, creative and committed people tackling significant challenges that the area faces in the upcoming years.
Some common themes struck me as emerging from the discussion: that the attraction of New Hampshire for young adults and others included good quality of life, access to outdoor recreational activities, and the strong sense of community here. Some common challenges included the lack of affordable housing, the long commute to work, and limited retention of diversity. Brainstormers noted schools and internships are an important draw for young adults, yet many young professionals leaving school, however, are not aware of the employment opportunities the region offers that would keep them here.
One area that suggests a way forward: both potential employees and employers are looking for flexibility and adaptability, employees in meeting work-life balance and flexibility around job hours and opportunities to work remotely, employers because adaptable employees are needed to work in the increasingly fast-paced and ever-changing business environment. The commonality of themes discussed suggests that many are on the same page; now we must take steps to move forward and translate ideas into action.
A follow-up event will be held to discuss the progress that has been made, said Polly Chandler, chair of AUNE’s Department of Management, who helped organize the event.
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