VOICES: Let’s stop the Dayton region’s brain drain together

My parents spent more than 75 years collectively as teachers who were focused on developing the next generation of workers.

They taught at all levels of K-12, coached multiple sports teams, mentored many young people and volunteered with the Parent Teacher Association and our Church. This explains my career-long focus on developing the next generation….it is in my blood.

The development of our young people and working-age adults has never been so important in our country. I encourage you to think about a few data points. According to multiple national agencies, our U.S. population is going through a major demographic shift.

Explore2020 Census data: Slow growth could cost Ohio money, clout

The country is becoming older, more female and more ethnically diverse. The Dayton region is a microcosm of what is happening across the United States. We must engage everyone in our society to continue to be community leaders. We absolutely can not afford to leave anyone behind.

These demographic changes are driving an intense talent war that employers across our region are engaged in every day to find and retain qualified employees. In addition, our employers are challenged with current and future employees seeking career opportunities outside our region. All of us have a role in developing the next generation, encouraging the current generation, and engaging our senior generations to decrease brain drain.

Brain drain occurs when we lose our talent to other regions of the state or country. The future of our region depends on our success in these engagements with the different parts of our population.

Each of us has a role in developing the next generation of workforce and decreasing brain drain, regardless of age and occupation. Here is how you can help:

  • Companies and their employees can help by encouraging student job shadows, attending career fairs, hiring local, mentoring, hosting paid internships and talking with young people about their careers. Furthermore, employers can ensure they are continuing to develop their workforce and involve baby boomers in different work arrangements to maintain their participation in the workforce. If you are a company who needs assistance with student engagement, check out www.soche.org/engage/.
  • Higher Education can help by exposing students to careers that fill our most in-demand needs while stretching the minds of young people to be innovative and creative problem solvers who are willing to take on the toughest of challenges in our society. We are blessed in our region to have many institutions of higher learning focused on training and educating students and adults to enter the workforce, advance in current job, or change career paths.
  • K-12 Schools can help by instilling the basics for student success and guiding everyone towards a post-secondary credential, whether through a certification or a two- or four-year degree.
  • Students in our schools can help by focusing on their studies and graduating from each grade level with the overarching goal of attaining a post-secondary credential, whether it is a certification or a degree.
  • Parents and caretakers can help by doing their homework on our region’s most in-demand job needs (www.topjobs.ohio.gov) and helping their student understand their options and the pathways to success. And, most importantly, encourage their student to work hard and make school a priority.
ExploreCensus shows US is diversifying, white population shrinking

Everyone in the Dayton region has a role in this talent war, and stopping the brain drain. Our future workers are already here in the region. They are in our high schools, colleges and working in our many businesses. Please find a way to be engaged, regardless of your occupation and stage in life. We need everyone to play a role in building our next generation of workforce, retaining our existing workforce, and attracting new workforce.

Cassie Barlow is president of the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE).