State seeks to recruit younger workers


Friday, August 10
MONTPELIER -- The state of Vermont will soon launch a new effort aimed at luring young Vermonters and former collegians now living elsewhere back to the state, Gov. Jim Douglas said Thursday.

Citing a "demographic crisis" characterized by Vermont's status as the second-oldest state in the country, he said employers are having trouble finding qualified workers and that the state's economy is suffering as a result.

Douglas, Commerce Secretary Kevin Dorn and Christina Werneke, the state's chief marketing officer, said the effort would launch a new Web portal targeting young workers, as well as hold events around the Northeast.

The first such event is set for September in conjunction with homecoming weekend at Norwich University in Northfield. The aim is to get those attending from outside the state to think about moving to Vermont.

The state officials were joined at Thursday's news conference by three executives from high-tech companies in Chittenden County that have a total of more than 40 openings right now for computer programmers, engineers and other people with technical skills.

Thirty of those jobs are being added at Qimonda in Williston, said plant manager Alan Walker. "We are seeking new employees as part of our expansion, but finding enough workers with the skills we need has been a challenge," he said.

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State officials said a centerpiece of the recruiting effort would be an online portal continuously updated that lists job openings in the state, housing, social and outdoor events.

"We're not going to catch everybody" who grew up or was educated in Vermont, Douglas said.

The aim is to have people stuck in traffic or on a subway see a message on their Blackberry, Palm Pilot or other personal data assistant reminding them that they could be doing similar work in Vermont -- without the difficult commute or other big-city headaches.

Douglas said state surveys of people from Vermont who went to school here suggest that many would love to return but are worried about the job market and affordable housing.

He said one of his goals was to encourage the construction of more affordable housing in the state.

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