Monday, March 07, 2011

Talent Retention Pittsburgh

Over the past few years, I've noted a trend in policies designed to plug the brain drain. Internships appear to be an effective tool for retaining college graduates that a region attracts. This is a great way to match the talent needs of industry with people studying at local institutions of higher education.

Internships would seem to explain Pittsburgh's impressive ability to retain talent, a trend I discussed last week. From today's sweep of the news:

The U.S. News internship survey showed that, of the 692 schools that responded, 36.8 percent of 2009 graduates had received an internship.

That tells us a few things. One is that most students do not get internships, even among universities that are happy to fill out surveys about such things. Looked at another way, you’d have to say that getting an internship is not a huge advantage if only more than a third of students at these 692 universities had one. No one going after a job is content to be in just the top third. The University of Pennsylvania, at the top of the U.S. News list, reports that 90 percent of its 2009 graduates had worked internships.

While ahead of all the other universities, Penn students are tied with each other — unless they get multiple internships. The Penn system obviously works well in getting students work experience, but even there, the student who hustles will rise above the rest.

Tuition and fees at Penn, a private university, are $40,514 this school year, according to U.S. News. And that is the $ factor.

Eight of U.S. News’ top 10 internship-producing universities are private. By definition, that makes them more expensive than public universities. The top internship-producing public universities on the U.S. News list are the Colorado School of Mines and the University of Pittsburgh.

Pennsylvania colleges and universities do a great job of attracting students from other states. Philadelphia (see the tidbit about Penn) has made a concerted effort to keep this talent around after graduation. Everything I've read recently indicates that the initiative is working. As for Pittsburgh, I'm not surprised to discover that Pitt excels at placing students in internships. The region struggles with anemic inmigration and a declining population. Most workers must be locally trained or educated in order to fill the demand for talent.

Bottom line: If you want to move to or back to Pittsburgh, then enroll in one of the region's great colleges or universities. That's the best way to find a job in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

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