Last updated: July 19. 2014 10:56PM - 1333 Views
By - tkellar@timesleader.com

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Data from local colleges show students are still choosing to remain in the Wyoming Valley for their careers.

King’s College’s 2013 alumni survey indicated that 33 percent of local graduates found work in the local geographic area in their field, while the remaining 13 percent found work in other areas. The survey defined the local geographic areas is Luzerne, Wyoming and Lackawanna counties.

The remaining 48 percent of the data represented graduates from outside of the region — 9 percent worked locally, while the remaining 39 percent found work outside of the region.

Six percent did not provide information as to where they started careers.

Chris Suutzko, director of the office of career planning at King’s College, said the number of students that decide to stay in the region is usually around 33 percent each year. He said the college tends to recruit students from within a three-hour commute from the campus.

“What I tend to see is that (recruitment) drastically impacts what kind of students return to the area,” he said.

Family and the small-town feel were some reasons that Suutzko gave that might entice students to stick around after graduation. For some, however, he said the best time to relocate is right after college when the financial burden is low.

“I think a lot of it comes down to personality … how comfortable they are with risk taking,” he said. “We have students that are extremely open-minded to that dynamic.”

Steven Scheinman, president and dean of Commonwealth Medical College, said it’s not possible to determine just how many graduates will return to Northeastern Pennsylvania. The college graduated its first class last year, and it will be at least two more years before the graduating doctors finish their field training.

That is when doctors may or may not decide to set up their practices in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Scheinman said the college tends to recruit local students as they are more likely to settle in the region, and it creates opportunity.”

‘What we do know is that our admission policies are to maximize the number who come there to practice,” Scheinman said. “We have great needs in a range of specialties.”

Graduates, according to Andrew Chew, also have needs that employers have to cater to in order for them to stay.

Chew is a research analyst at The Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development. He said the region’s mix of communities are attractive to students, along with cultural opportunities such as entertainment, arts and music.

“A lot of research has shown that studies have been done that show that younger people are choosing where to start their careers based on the types of communities they want to live in and the lifestyles they want to live,” Chew said.

Chew called on employers to be responsive in understanding the needs of the younger workforce. He couldn’t specify exactly what young workers look for, but he said employers that have perks like flextime or other nontraditional benefits would be able to connect with young workers.

“If our business community, if our elected officials can promote those things in our communities, it’s going to be a lot a more of an attractive place for young people to stay and begin their careers,” Chew said.

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