Thursday, March 05, 2009

Brain Drain Universities

Another list from Forbes, this time ranking the brain drain by state. Actually, the data are from a representative university and measure the percentage of graduates from that school that remain in-state after 5 years. West Virginia (i.e. West Virginia University) is at the bottom:

Why do so many WVU grads leave? Largely because of the state's economy. West Virginia is caught in the vicious cycle of having a poor business climate (it ranks last in Forbes' annual ranking of the Best States for Business), few big companies and a poorly educated work force. "The lack of an educated workforce is a serious problem for West Virginia," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's

That's a rather bold claim to make, particularly considering how close Morgantown (home of WVU) is to Pittsburgh. Consider the other "Worst States For Keeping College Grads":

  1. Wyoming
  2. North Dakota
  3. Delaware
  4. Iowa
  5. Vermont
  6. Idaho
  7. Kansas
  8. Indiana
  9. Virginia (One of the best states for business)

Since I'm a UVM graduate, I know the Vermont story well. Many graduates end up working in the Boston region, the nearest big market city. My narrative holds up until I consider the best "states" for retaining college graduates. Maine, home of many brain drain initiatives, is among the top ranked. I would have guessed that Boston had a similar pull on this talent pool. Might Mainers stay in-state and commute to a Massachussetts job?

When graduates do leave the state, where are they going? That map doesn't seem to be worth the time to make. That's a foolish oversight when attempting to craft an effective workforce development policy.

And by the way ... The Ohio State University is one of the best schools for keeping graduates in-state. Don't believe the political hype that claims otherwise. In fact, a 2007 story cites credible research that Ohio does well in retaining talent:

A study by the Urban Affairs Center at the University of Toledo in 2006 , however, concluded that "brain drain is not as common in this state and area as is generally believed, only about 20 percent of 2000 to 2003 graduates left the state, a relatively low percentage."

Of the 20 percent that left, the top three destinations were California, Michigan and Illinois.

Ohio is not one of the best states for doing business, according to Forbes. On the contrary, it is one of the worst. So much for that theory. Can we stop with the nonsense, now?

No comments: