State launching employment recruitment drive

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(Host) The Douglas Administration is launching a recruitment drive to entice young people back to Vermont to work in high-tech jobs.

Douglas says the effort is designed to fight a disturbing demographic trend that makes Vermont the state with the second oldest population.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) Commerce Secretary Kevin Dorn says the state faces a demographic crisis, with employers unable to find the workers they need. Dorn says Vermont ranks last among the states for the percentage of people aged 25 to 29.

Yet it’s the highest in the country for those between 50 and 54.

(Dorn) "This is more than the handwriting on the wall, folks. And it is this issue that is holding back our economy today."

(Dillon) Dorn brought representatives of Vermont companies to the news conference to help make the case that skilled workers are needed.

David Parker is from Dealer-dot-com in Burlington. The company works with car dealers across the country. It has about 10 job openings right now, but hopes to grow by about 200 employees over the next several years.

(Parker) "So obviously to get from our current position of about 120 employees to there, we’re going to need a lot of support both from our training programs that we currently run to employee local Vermonters and also to reach outside the state to get talent from there as well."

(Dillon) The state’s recruitment drive is aimed at getting people who have some connection to Vermont to return here. So the state will work employers to hold networking events. It plans to reach out to alumni of Vermont colleges to create student internships at local companies.

And Dorn says the state will also contact prospective employees through the Internet to pitch Vermont’s quality of life.

(Dorn) "They’ll be looking at their palm pilots and their PDAs on the subway in Boston and getting an email from Vermont saying if you’re sitting in traffic or if you’re on the subway right now, you could be in Vermont. And you could be hiking or swimming this morning and going to work in an hour."

(Dillon) David Winslow is president of EpikOne, a consulting firm headquartered in Williston.

He says this kind of pitch makes sense for today’s high tech workforce.

(Winslow) "I spent hours on 101 going from San Francisco to Silicon Valley. And if I was doing that every day and I got a message that I could do the same exact work without that commute. The quality of life, even though it gets used a lot as a term is an intangible but huge factor."

(Dillon) The recruitment drive kicks off with an event at Norwich University this fall.

Governor Douglas says he’ll evaluate the success of the program based on what he hears from Vermont employers.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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