This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

March 10, 2004

Love Those Young Professionals

Communities seeking to develop a strong, balanced workforce want to keep their young people at home. Many young people, on the other hand, are eager to leave the community where they grew up. Both positions are easy to understand and appreciate, though they are in conflict.

As young people graduate from high school, they seek a personal transition away from parents, teachers, neighbors, and others who know them. They want to be among people who will respect them for who they are now, not who they were during their childhood. They want an individuality of their own, not an identity that forever links them with their parents, siblings, and old relationships. When they graduate from college, the drive for independence and self-sufficiency is even stronger. By graduation, college students have already lived away from home so long that it's difficult to go back.

Communities want the young people---with relevant skills and valuable education---to remain as a vibrant part of the workforce. College graduates are particularly coveted, since they can often perform the jobs that targeted incoming industry seeks to fill. The issue is economic development, and young high school and college graduates become the ammunition needed to attract new employers. As we move through the decade, workers with in-demand skill sets will even outpace the college educated in desirability.

Local leaders woo young people with social events, entertainment that responds to their attitudes and interests, and gathering places that are attractive to them. These local campaigns are part of the reason for the proliferation of sports stadiums in mid-sized cities. Chambers of Commerce offer after-hours gatherings, leadership development programs, and similar incentives to entice young people to live and work in the community. We are half-expecting to see dating bureaus operated by Chambers of Commerce! Liability lawyers will fret about that member service!

Blossoming next on the horizon, watch for local websites directed toward holding young people and attracting back people who have left. Emphasis will be on quality of life, with employment added as almost an afterthought. Young marrieds will be prime targets, valued for their stability.

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