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Colleges, employers work to curb 'brain drain'

Posted: 9:14 AM, Feb 15, 2018
Updated: 2018-02-16 11:45:31Z

The quest of earning your degree and jumpstarting your career is typically followed by the question: where?

It's an answer many employers, colleges and other professionals want to know as the metro analyzes whether it's a place where college students would want to live, work and play after graduation.

"I think I'd stay in my local area. It's a place I know and enjoy and people I can get in contact with easily," said Christoper Gibson, 18, a University of Nebraska Omaha student studying computer programming with a minor in game design. 

Cody Harper, 20, sits on the fence and cites Chicago as a possibility.

"It's just really small here, which is cool if you're into that," said the student, who's studying emergency management. "We have two skyscrapers and they have as many as you can count. Can you even say that is a skyscraper?"

Although, the Omaha native said he wouldn't be opposed to staying.

The term "brain drain" is often used to describe when a highly trained local workforce takes its talent elsewhere. It's a trend that remains hot on the Greater Omaha Chamber's radar.

"The chamber is on top of watching migration data," said Sarah Moylan, senior director of talent. "We work with partners like UNO to really understand how migration is flowing in and out."

A report conducted between 2011 and 2015 revealed Nebraska experienced a net loss of more than 11,000 people with at least a Bachelors degree - meaning those graduates, a highly trained workforce, took their skills elsewhere.

Moylan explained to 3 News Now how certain circumstances play a role in the trend.

If an out-of-state student attends a Nebraska university, there's always the likelihood of he or she returning home.

However, it's sentiments similar to Harper's that have employers and colleges wondering how it can attract and retain talent in their own backyard.

"Metropolitan Community College partnered with the Mayor's Workforce Ready Community," said Tom Pensadene, the associate vice president of Workforce and IT Innovations.

According to MCC, the school successfully paired 30 graduates with employers within Nebraska.

The college and roughly 60 employers, such as Drake-Williams Steel and First Data, presently work together to create courses and train students for jobs available in the metro 

The University of Nebraska Omaha is also working to curb the trend.

Like a matchmaker, it provides a database of nearly 2,700 Nebraska companies offering employment and internship opportunities for students.The goal is to have both employers and prospective candidates become acquanited with one another.

"One of the misconceptions are that students don't know where to look for opportunities," said Joe Hayes, an assistant director of employer relations and internships at UNO.

These partnerships hope to remove an obstace in starting a career for either students from Nebraska or transplants like Ryan Brumstead. He's originally from Colorado Springs.

"Really right now, Omaha is a really great place to be," said the 20-year-old student who's studying cyber security at MCC. "There's a lot of upswing."