Friday, June 15, 2007

Lifestyle Choices and Brain Drain

I should create a blog just for brain drain discussion. I did a Google news search today for "brain drain" and there were enough hits for a year's worth of blog posts. Migration is an oft-used scapegoat for economic woes and the competition for talent is fierce. Ah, but brain drain can occur without a regional exodus of human capital:

Sylvia Ann Hewlett calls them "canaries in the coal mine." Women who drop out of the workforce in their 30s-to have kids or care for older relatives-struggle to find high-powered jobs again. Managers often view them as less committed than other workers, so many women settle for lower-paying positions. In Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success, Hewlett, an economist and founding president of the Center for Work-Life Policy, argues that women are just the most conspicuous casualties of a broken career model.

Both women and retirees represent vital creativity leaving the workforce while regions panic about young college graduates seeking greener pastures. Hewlett sounds the warning, "The war for talent is really heating up: Employers can't continue to sideline two thirds of the female talent pool."

Pittsburgh is good location for families and retirees. Enterprise might adjust the workplace to accommodate these specific worker needs. Westinghouse and other companies already go to great lengths to attract and retain young talent. Pittsburgh could have a strong comparative advantage when it comes to working moms, whereas the quest for 20-somethings is quite the uphill battle.

No comments: