Friday, 02 February 2018 10:11

The Brain Drain Part I Featured

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STATEWIDE - It's no surprise that Maine has one of the oldest populations in the country, and officials are struggling to find ways to keep younger people in the state.

In a state where the median age is 44, businesses are left scrambling to fill vacant positions.

 

"Some people say we are losing a large majority of our young people at the beginning of their careers and they're going elsewhere for jobs," said James Westhoff, the director of career services at Husson University. 

 

We're talking about the "brain drain", a term that many dislike. But it's a heavily discussed issue- one the state has been addressing for years. What's the future of Maine's workforce?

 

"It's movement of people. To call it the 'brain drain', it implies if you're smart you're going to get out of here, I don't think that's true by any means," said Ben Sprague, the Bangor City Council Chair. "There's a lot of tremendous people doing some positive things in the state of Maine right now."

 

As of now, according to a report commissioned by the Maine Bureau of Human Resources, the age of the state's population probably won't fluctuate for at least the next seven years.

 

"The state needs more people to replenish itself overtime. Businesses need workers, schools need students in them, all of our economic systems and social support need new crop of people," said Sprague.

 

State officials started looking into the issue in 2014. Whether it's installing broadband or re-branding the job market, officials are trying to find innovative ways to convince younger people to stay in Maine.

 

"There's always going to be a little bit of a flow out of the state of Maine, no matter where you are in the country, it's hard to get people to move north sometimes," said Sprague. "There is sort of the steady flow out, but there's a lot of people staying here and moving back as well."

 

Affordable housing remains an issue across the state and could be a reason why young people are leaving.

 

"There's a lack of high quality housing at times, especially for the young professional category," said Sprague. "That's a very key issue right now."

 

Some lawmakers are pushing bills addressing the "brain drain," after hearing the concerns of business owners across the state having difficulties filling job positions.

 

"Every person has value," said Michael Aube, the president and CEO of Eastern Maine Development Corporation. "The question is, how do we maximize that values and our economic opportunities that do exist in the region, if we got that message out, I think more people will stay."

 

Educators are working with economic developers across the state, finding in-state internships and employment opportunities for students leaving school.

 

"We're in a tough market in my opinion," said Westhoff. "We do need to be in other states bringing students in and anything we can do to help those students learn about Maine and feel good about Maine, work in Maine, I think is really important."

Jack Hilton

Reporter
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Jack Hilton joined WVII ABC 7 and WFVX Fox 22 in March of 2016. He was born in Montreal, Canada but was raised in the sunshine state, Fort Lauderdale before graduating cum laude from Husson University with a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications.

Born in a famous boxing family, Jack set off toward a different career path, after the mysterious death of his uncle, Arturo Gatti, who is in the Boxing Hall of Fame.

With a heart for people, he is always looking to meet and tell the stories of those in the community. He is charismatic, funny and down to earth.

When not on the air, he enjoys spending time with his lovely wife, his parrots and attending church. He's also a huge fan of TV series such as Buffy, Friends and The Office.

If you have any story ideas or want to talk about tv shows, contact him at [email protected] or tweet him @News_JackHilton