By Rebecca Perkins, LNH Class of 2017
The Virtuous Cycle - Creating “buy in” in employees – necessary for retention – often requires investment by employers, a gamble in today’s mobile workforce. But, the employers that make these investments – even just in flexibility, care or interest in their employees – see the rewards. In some cases, though, it’s not enough – young lawyers, accountants, ICT workers – all have many opportunities to leave and pursue other careers; having more workers would allow employers to better control and plan for their workforce and their investments, and perhaps create a slightly less mobile workforce, which would in turn encourage such investment by employers. Partnering with community college programs in a nimble and directed way could create distinct pipelines of workers.
Our Newest Americans -Concerning New Americans, there are creative programs integrating this population into New Hampshire’s workforce seamlessly, by celebrating their differences and providing alternative financing. These programs exist alongside apprenticeship and high school graduate training in many cases. Some businesses have had great success providing simple benefits for New Americans; they create a community that celebrates coming together and getting the job done. But, this is likely not enough – many New Americans have degrees from their home countries, and in order to truly advance, New Hampshire could benefit from a pathway for these degrees to be recognized by New Hampshire businesses, so that New Americans can work in the middle- and upper-class fields they are trained in. It is also is important to allow for community amenities such as mosques, grocery stores and others which are familiar to New Americans to become a welcome and integrated part of our community.
Speak Loudly and Carry a Large Stick - With all of these workforce challenges weighing on our mind, we went into the last two sessions, which were both powerful. We learned that New Hampshire’s starvation of resources makes for creative solutions; that entrepreneurs are certain kinds of people thatmight emerge from adversity or difficulty; they are more willing to endure social consequences to solve problems, and they listen acutely to their target audience and tune out everyone else. New Hampshire needs to be more strategic, more active; to test solutions to attracting millennials; accept trial and error. The state needs to focus on dense green downtowns and diversity; it can be boring to millennials, who return from rich, cosmopolitan environments.
A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action – Lastly, Families in Transition impressed all of us tremendously. FIT integrates various services into housing, ahead of the curve, to make their dollars more efficient. Owning a housing portfolio – and building it where their clients are - helps them save the taxpayer a lot of money, and also provides new hope and opportunity for the families that need services. A tremendous business model, and just that – a business, but dancing backwards in high heels due to all of the grantor and regulatory reviews and audits that must be completed each year. But the same workforce recruitment and ownership challenges exist; shouldn’t be paying a wage that requires employees to be clients. The idea that the school of hard knocks makes you creative holds merit, and it is also worth considering that people without the proper degrees could be the most effective.