Raising the State's "Cool" Factor
Management Professor Emily Porschitz Documents Initiative to Keep Young Workers in NH
You need skilled workers to attract business, but it takes more than just fulfilling jobs to attract – and keep – skilled workers.
Research has been plentiful on the early careers of today’s young adults, but most of it has focused on that generation’s passions, wants, and expectations when graduating from college to career. “There wasn’t a lot that was looking at what the social structures are surrounding that transition,” notes Emily Porschitz, an assistant professor of management who studies early careers, young professionals, and public/private institutional partnerships.
So Porschitz was happy for the opportunity to document, from its inception, the 55% Initiative, a project of the University System of New Hampshire established in 2007 to market New Hampshire to college students and young professionals as a state that offers not just leading-edge jobs but a lifestyle that appeals to single 20-somethings. The initiative’s name came from its goal: to increase from 50 percent to 55 percent the number of New Hampshire college graduates, including those who came here from other places, who stay in the state.
Porschitz is interested in the ways businesses, the university system, and state government work to keep young people in New Hampshire. “New Hampshire really is very supportive of entrepreneurship and new business generation, but that requires having potential employees here for business owners to hire, and young professionals, people who are just out of college, is a great pool of potential employees,” she says.
The 55% Initiative was aimed not just at promoting the kinds of jobs that might draw young professionals, but also at touting the state’s many social, recreational, and cultural offerings.
Did it work?
“It’s a hard thing to collect data on,” says Porschitz, but, she adds, “I know the discussion has changed. There’s a lot more interest in young professionals; there’s a lot more talk about it.”
In 2009, the work of the 55% Initiative was taken up by Stay Work Play NH, an independent nonprofit that connects young people across the state through social media, networking, professional organizations, and a website that offers a blog, job listings, and an events calendar. The organization has an active Facebook page, sponsors the annual Rising Stars Awards that honor young professionals and the companies where they work, and encourages employers to sign on to the Stay Work Play Challenge Grant, which offsets $8,000 in student loan payments for recent hires who are New Hampshire graduates.
Stay Work Play, says Porschitz, is designed to “promote the lifestyle here and promote interesting businesses that young people are going to be interested in working for, where there are jobs – and hopefully interesting jobs, at that. There’s just a lot more discourse about the issue now in the state.”
Learn more online: For links to StayWorkPlayNH, visit keene.edu/mag