Friday, January 25, 2008

Spinning Regional Investment in Education

I would be suspicious of any higher education reports that contained a claim about the high retention rates of its graduates. Welcome to one economic development consultant's Atlantic Canada nightmare:

As I have said before, in the last couple of months I have had three community college students tell me that their teachers talk a lot about the job opportunities outside New Brunswick for their skillsets. So, I have a hunch that the 87% is much lower. But if I am wrong, why not just publish the summary of where the total graduates are located? Then my criticism would be put to rest.

The bottom line is that community college and university is heavily subsidized by the New Brunswick government and no one wants to be overly chatty about the fact that 20%, 30% and I even saw one report that said 40% (this was Maritime wide) of graduates leave the region because that would show a serious problem. The NB government spending millions each year to train workers for Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

If you scrutinized the region that ANY public community college or university purportedly served, then you would be looking at a boondoggle. Training people to enable better labor mobility should be a strategy to attract migrants, not a means to encourage them to stay. Concerning migration, I find the misinformation astounding.

A snippet from the article I used for my previous post is instructive:

While not everyone on the Metro-North New Haven line is falling in love, they are having a much better time than most commuters. Mr. Doremus, a bar-car regular, moved to Redding, Conn., for the lauded school system, but has found the commute to be an additional perk. “I work in the MetLife building,” he said. “The commute into the city can’t get any better than what I have right now.”

The reputation of a school district serving as the primary rationale for a relocation decision shouldn't surprise anyone living in Pittsburgh. Great schools attract people. But great schools don't keep people from leaving. In academic terms, the education variable is a pull factor. Public higher education should be utilized to bring new people to the region. The stated parochial mission is largely a farce, but remains a popular and effective political ploy.

No comments: