For years, we have all hear about “the brain drain”, an issue that plagues Maine’s economy and sees hundreds of new grads leaving the state in droves. In May, a new contingent of graduates will receive their diplomas from Maine’s colleges and universities, but the lack of jobs available in the dismal economic downturn we are currently facing leaves few positions up for grabs. The problem remains as we continue to see employers leave the state for areas which are more lucrative for business.
For those out of the know, the brain drain refers to a phenomena in which young, college educated individuals leave the state in order to seek employment opportunities. With this large-scale departure of those with marketable skills, Maine sees it’s economy struggling to withstand hard economic times in industries where blue-collar workers prevail. However, with most jobs seeking candidates who have years of experience, it is no doubt as to why recent graduates struggle to find careers in their specific fields of study. Were the brain drain really as primary of a concern as politicians make it out to be, employers would be embracing the enthusiasm and fresh perspectives that new grads bring to businesses instead of turning them away, forcing people to decide between pursuing their career goals or staying near family and friends.
Of those I know who have graduated in recent years, very few are able to get jobs pertaining to the areas of discipline in which they hold a degree. Certainly not for lack of effort, many find themselves settling for jobs in which they will be able to pay off student loans, losing hope that they will ever be able to break into the career path in which they originally wished to find themselves working in. With the state of Maine holding little career opportunities for those who have big dreams, the only people we have to blame for this deficit of educated individuals are those employers who fail to reach out to recent grads as well as the political climate which does not offer ample benefits for those businesses who wish to bring their operations into the state.
As I embark on my own personal job hunt, it is shocking to discover that there are very few entry-level positions available, leaving few options for those in a similar situation as myself. Reluctant to leave the state that has nurtured my young mind and provided me a safe harbor for the last 22 years of my life, it comes down to making touch decisions whether to stay behind and wait for the dream job that will likely never come or taking my degree as I embark on a career path to success in another state.
While the thought of bringing new business to Maine during hard economic times might seem daunting to some, it is a necessary force in order to combat the evil brain drain. We must provide jobs that will stimulate recent graduates of our state’s colleges and universities, giving them incentives to add to the state’s economy instead of taking their talents elsewhere. Many large corporations might see Maine as the last place to do business, but in all reality, it is bursting with opportunities. With a growing pool of hard workers and plenty of vacant factories and warehouses that could be put to good use, it’s a shame that these resources remain untapped.
Until both businesses and politicians recognize that the brain drain is a huge problem, it is unlikely that we will see any noticeable decline in the number of graduates leaving the state. With so many possible solutions to the problem, it seems that the issue could have been fixed long ago with collaboration between both business and political institutions. This is not the case however, and until it is drastically overcome, we will, as new grads, continue to seek out other employment in places far away from home.