Recent census data has documented that many millennials in Connecticut have been leaving the state to pursue careers and other opportunities elsewhere. In 2014 alone, approximately 39,000 people between the ages of 20 and 34 moved out of the state. The glaring exception in this trend has been graduates of the University of Connecticut. Figures show that 78 percent of in-state students who graduated from UConn and started work within the past year have remained in the state. That number is around 30 percent for out of state UConn graduates.
Clearly, the fact that so many UConn graduates are staying in Connecticut has many benefits for the state. They enter the workforce, help grow the economy and encourage companies looking for highly skilled or specialized professionals to set roots in Connecticut. For example, Pratt and Whitney just announced that it would be hiring around 8,000 new workers in Connecticut over the next 10 years. In addition, Sikorsky Aircraft recently announced they would expand their spending with local suppliers by over 300 million dollars and keep building helicopters in the state after receiving millions in grants and tax breaks.
The presence of a highly ranked public university whose graduates stay in state is undoubtedly one reason behind these moves. As so, the state has a responsibility to the university to provide them with the resources it needs to continue to operate at peak efficiency. The state government should make every effort to stop the continued slashing of the UConn budget. When possible they should be increasing funding to UConn, as numerous studies indicate this yields a positive return on investment. In exchange for investing in education the state will receive a highly skilled workforce that will bolster economic growth and improve communities around Connecticut.
This is not a one-sided commitment, however. The university must make efforts to help students as well. For example, with the growing presence of aerospace companies in the state UConn could offer an aerospace major within the School of Engineering to better prepare students interested in the field. In addition, working closer with major companies, holding career fairs, and providing students with internship/career opportunities will help convince both in-state and out of state students to remain in Connecticut. A combined effort on the part of the state and UConn has the potential to lead to a plethora of opportunities for UConn students and the state as a whole.