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.