Is Albany suffering from a "brain drain?"
College campuses in Albany are quiet this time of year. Many students have gone home for the summer and the Class of 2013 has accepted their diplomas. But now that those grads are out in the working world, will they stay here in Albany?
"I literally applied to every single state, not every state but a couple in California, a couple in New York, a couple in Maryland, a couple, a lot in Atlanta, Georgia," said Seung Yean Won, a senior at Albany State University.
Seung came to Georgia from South Korea in high school. After taking classes at Georgia Southwestern, Darton College and now Albany State, he's graduating this summer with a degree in business management, a common field of study at ASU. Many students at ASU are like Seung. No, they aren't all from other countries but 81% of them are from outside the South Georgia area and they will be looking for jobs.
"Many of our students relocate and we encourage that simple because our students must be mobile and must go to the jobs," said Glorya Williams, director of Career Services at ASU. "If the jobs are not here, then they must seek jobs in other geographical areas."
So we reached out to the major employers in the area, Phoebe Putney health system, MARS Snackfood, MillerCoors and Procter & Gamble Paper Products, to find out if they hired local grads. Mars and MillerCoors would not comment on the issue, Proctor and Gamble said in an email they have not hired in more than five years but they have employees from all three local schools.
Phoebe said they do not keep track of what schools they hire from but it's not just people in the medical field who make a hospital work. Phoebe hires doctors and nurses but they also need to fill more common desk jobs and a recent nationwide trend has been for healthcare organizations to acquire practices, taking over logistics of running an office.
"It's because those groups came to Phoebe and said hey we want your help, we want you to help run our business for us so we can be good at what we're good at and that's being a doctor," said Blake Garrett, an employment specialist at Phoebe.
As for the nurses, Darton State College says 70% of the nurses and healthcare workers in the Albany Area and surrounding counties were at one time Darton College students.
"It's a win for both the community and our institution to have nurses and healthcare workers in our area that graduate here, live here and stay here and go directly to work," said Tracy Goode, dean of advancement at Darton College.
Although nursing is the only four year degree at Darton, they are looking to add similar programs in the years to come and pump more employees into the local area.
90% of Albany Tech students stay in about a 60 mile radius of the Albany Area after graduation.
"A lot of the programs here at Albany Tech are actually focused on the needs of our employers in Albany and surrounding areas. So through our advisory board committees, we make sure we're meeting the needs of the workforce of our local area," said Judy Jimmerson from Career Services at Albany Tech.
In order to supply the workforce with graduates, there needs to be demand for employees which means it all goes back to having jobs available here in the community for these brains and college degrees.
"Wherever the money lies, wherever the people need me, wherever I can brush up on my skills that can make me a better being or make me more successful then that's where I'll be," said Yean Won.