Under 40s asked if they will stay in NHBy DOUG ALDEN
New Hampshire Union Leader
May 22. 2018 9:48AM
• 69 percent have lived in New Hampshire five years or less;
• 74 percent are employed;
• 17 percent are currently enrolled in college or post-secondary education;
• 48 percent attended college or post-secondary education in the state;
• 41 percent own a home; 54 percent rent;
• Only 4 percent reported they were not satisfied with living in New Hampshire, but when asked if they would consider moving out of the state in the next two years, 22 percent were unsure, 16 percent said they probably would and 14 percent said they definitely would.
CONCORD — Stay Work Play New Hampshire hopes the findings from a new survey provide better answers in the ongoing struggle to attract young people to the Granite State and keep them here.
Will Stewart, executive director of the nonprofit group dedicated to promoting New Hampshire as a destination where young people and recent college graduates can enjoy a wide-ranging life balance, presented some of the findings on Monday to a full house at the Red River Theaters.
Stewart said developing a solution will still take some time and would require collaboration.
“Everybody gets it now. The question for Stay Work Play and for all of us in our businesses and organizations is what do we do about it?” Stewart asked the audience of about 130 people in one of the three Red River theaters.
Stewart used Red River — an independent cinema a few blocks south of the New Hampshire State House — as an example of one of the Granite State’s hidden assets.
“I like to say that New Hampshire is kind of a state of best-kept secrets. We have a lot of great stuff here,” he said.
Survey respondents cited cultural opportunities as something the state was lacking. Other areas where the Granite State didn’t score well were cultural diversity, the cost of attending college or graduate schools in the state, social opportunities and nightlife, access to public transportation and affordable housing and childcare.
“We have players in every sector that are all screaming for workers, but as a small state, we don’t all have the resources,” Stewart said. “We can’t do everything alone; we know here in New Hampshire we need to work together and we need to kind of triage. What are the issues that we can have the most impact on and that are the most important?”
Stay Work Play partnered with Eversource in the survey, which was conducted in December by RKM Research of Portsmouth.
Eversource New Hampshire President Bill Quinlan said the retention issue is not unique to New Hampshire, but the Granite State can get an edge on other states through the survey and similar efforts.
“This is one of our single biggest challenges,” Quinlan said. “All of the largest employers in the state are facing this.”
Stewart said he hoped data from the survey, which is still being analyzed and broken down regionally within the state, would lead to future collaborations. He invited members of the audience, many of them representing businesses and other statewide young professional networks, to get involved.
Stewart also announced a new strategic partnership between Stay Work Play and the New Hampshire College and University Council.
“We want to move to being more action-oriented. We want to move the needle,” he said.
Members in the audience offered some of their own suggestions during a Q-and-A session following Stewart’s presentation.
“We’re looking into it, too, and it would be really nice to kind of coordinate our efforts and also just collaborate our data and see if similar things are bubbling up in different sectors,” said Beth Boucher, external affairs director for City Year New Hampshire.
Boucher said City Year has been conducting its own surveys to learn more about retaining members of the national service network to remain in New Hampshire once their service commitment has been completed.
“We do our own kind of survey. Why are they leaving? Where are they going? A lot of times it’s school. They’re looking to get further education and it’s really expensive to go to school here in New Hampshire.”
Boucher said she many City Year attracts culturally diverse participants, many from large metropolitan areas accustomed to access to mass transit.
“The transportation part is something we hear a lot about,” Boucher said.
Slides from the presentation can be viewed below: