Iowa officials look to battle ‘brain drain’

Jocelyn Marcus

Iowa officials are using a new program to try and prevent what they perceiveas the reason for the mass exodus of students leaving the state following high school graduation.

In September, all juniors and seniors in Iowa high schools will be given Next: Life After High School in Iowa, a magazine published by Business Publications Corporation along with the Iowa Governor’s Office, Workforce Development, Department of Education and Department of Economic Development.

Connie Wimer, publisher with Business Publications Corporation, said there are four main goals of the magazine.

“The purpose is to help students in Iowa find viable choices for their ongoing education or employment. The second purpose is to help Iowa companies hire and retain a higher percentage of students,” she said. “A third is to help Iowa colleges retain a high percentage of instate students, and a fourth to help existing lower-income workers upgrade their skills.”

There are similar Next publications in other states, Wimer said. The first state to publish the magazine was Arkansas in 1998. Since then, Pennsylvania, Florida and Iowa have begun their own magazines, and 20 more states have publications in development.

All content in Next: Life After High School in Iowa is written in the state, she said. It will have information on cost of living, filling out college applications and opportunities for employment and education in Iowa.

“It’ll give every education possibility. From the technical schools to the universities in Iowa, it’ll give all of them,” Wimer said. “This will really help to highlight what we have to offer in the state.”

Information about opportunities in Iowa will persuade some students to stay in state, she said. Ads in the magazine will also focus on jobs available to young people in Iowa.

“The point of having all the information about the possibilities within the state will hopefully help them look at going to school here instead of going to school out of state. And if they’re going directly to jobs, that there are possibilities for a career instate,” she said.

State officials aren’t the only ones who are trying to combat the “brain drain” or the number of students who leave Iowa directly after college.

Winning Solutions, an Ames technology company that serves clients both around Iowa and the nation, was founded in 1996 by an ISU student and a University of Louisiana student.

More than one-third of the company’s 30-plus employees attended Iowa State, said Beth Saxton, director of public relations for Winning Solutions.

Saxton, who graduated from Iowa State in May, said many employees of Ames companies come to the city to attend college.

“Ames especially has a lot to offer — has a low crime rate, high education, high pay — and I think that the people who work here have found that Ames is a nice place to stay after graduation,” she said.

She said companies need to incorporate recent technology to appeal to ISU graduates.

“They must be utilizing the technology that allows them to do well,” Saxton said. “There needs to be some young companies offering aggressive pay and benefits to keep people in Ames.