New website looks to tackle Vermont’s high-tech ‘brain drain’

Lawrence Miller, secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, discussed the importance of internships for Vermont’s younger workforce during a news conference at the Competitive Computing offices in Colchester on Thursday. Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger

Lawrence Miller, secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, discussed the importance of internships for Vermont’s younger workforce during a news conference at the Competitive Computing offices in Colchester on Thursday. Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger

COLCHESTER — A new portal to match college students with high-tech internships could help the state address its “brain drain” problem, officials hope.

On Thursday, the Vermont Technology Council launched Vermont Internships, which is designed to be the state’s go-to website for posting and searching for internships.

The website is the latest addition to the “tool kit” employers can use to select from the pool of Vermont’s 40,000 students, said Lawrence Miller, secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, during a news conference at the Competitive Computing offices in Colchester.

Miller said employers need a way to find well-qualified workers more than they need customers. Businesses especially need tech-savvy students, he said, because technology is a key component to many businesses’ success.

He said this tool will connect students and employers across the state. While Chittenden County, home to four of the five largest cities and towns in Vermont, might attract young people entering the workforce, job seekers can now locate work in less populated areas of the state using the site, Miller said.

Connecting students to employers will keep Vermont’s well-educated workforce inside the state, he said.

Internships are becoming the primary gateway into the workforce, said John Evans, president of the Vermont Technology Council, an organization that aims to develop tools for a technologically advanced economy and builder of the site.

“It really is through internships, today, that probably 70 percent of the new jobs for people coming out of higher education are found,” he said.

The free-to-use website was branded for Vermont, featuring a silhouette of Camels Hump and pictures of foliage, and the marketing of the site focuses on retaining students in the state. However, there are no geographic restrictions on its use.

Users of the portal can search by major, which range from art and design to computer science, or be guided by the “Internship Predictor” tool, which provides internship options to users based on their personal preferences.

If the site were built from scratch, it would have cost about $1 million, Evans said. However, the website links to the database provided by the national internship search website, Internships.com, which cut the cost.

“We spent pennies on the dollar,” Evans said.

Competitive Computing, a Vermont-based tech firm, volunteered to work on the site.

Annie Noonan, the state’s labor commissioner, said the Department of Labor gave the council a $23,000 grant for website development as part of the state’s workforce education and development program.

John Herrick

Comments

  1. Chris Lewis :

    Perhaps Montpelier should stop chasing businesses out of the state so there are decent jobs for folks left in Vermont.

  2. Stephanie Fraser :

    $1 million dollars to develop a website?

    For what? High paid executives?

    I guarantee that any number of website development companies here in VT could have done it for much much less.

    I know my company could have.

    And how much did it cost to sign up for a subsite of internships.com? Likely way too much.

    • Joanna Cummings :

      The article did not say the state paid $1 million for the website. And a Vermont company is working on the site. Just pointing out that reading the article in full is always helpful before commenting.

  3. Duncan Kilmartin :

    What is the hidden premise of the story? The brain drain of 25-45 year olds with bachelor degrees and higher, where several years ago we were ranked #1 in the nation.

    The root causes: high taxes; low wages; few job opportunities in the private sector; a studied hatred of successful entrepreneurs unless they are progressives; state sponsored corporate welfare for alternative energy friends of the Governor on the backs of the poor and middle class. Need I say more?

    Come on Lawrence, we cannot get a web site for health care running. How are you going to do it for smart, educated folks who don’t need the nanny state to figure out the opportunities are out of state, not in Vermont? Any one of them that we would like to keep here are light years beyond this utterly stupid gimmick.

    Oh, by the way Lawrence, check out Vermont’s success in IT innovation and updating. DMV and the Vermont Judiciary are two examples of state sponsored incompetence.

    Why add another one for $1 million?

  4. Wally Roberts :

    Urging students to stay in Vermont is parochial and regressive. What students need as much if not more than a good college education is an education in how the world outside of this precious place really works. Without that knowledge young people can’t reach their full potential. Vermont needs to recruit the workers it wants by paying higher wages and providing other concrete benefits.

  5. I believe it is important to talk about the brain drain in Vermont, but I am also hopeful that it is fast becoming out dated. There is a lot of activity and tech progress in our State. Last month, there was a good article on just this topic in Vermont Life. I loved the sub title lead-in for the article, “Young people, we’re told all the time, are leaving the state. It’s a good story, except for one thing.” – http://www.vermontlife.com/youth-exodus/

    Back in 2005, our company, Bear Code, was an early member of the Vermont Software Developer’s Alliance. At that point in time the brain drain was very real and the software development activity in state was very limited in scope. As an ecosystem (that appeals to young people and young professionals), we have made incredible strides in the last eight years. In that time, we have added thousands of new jobs in the sector – largely held by young people.

    If we continue at this pace, in eight more years, I believe our concern about the brain drain will be greatly reduced. That said, I would take issue with one quote from Secretary Miller. If we are going to continue to grow our ecosystem, we need well qualified customers in addition to well qualified workers. We need the State of Vermont to be supporting our enterprises as a customer as well as on the worker identification and training front.

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