Editorial: Louisiana wants its college graduates back

There’s is a movement underway

to get college graduates who have left the state to return home to

Louisiana. Because of an

expected explosion of high-tech job openings in the state,

Operation Recall was created to find these graduates and make them

aware of job opportunities here.

The Louisiana Board of Regents has partnered with the state’s universities and Workforce Cabinet Agencies to implement this

$20,000 initiative.

An information-gathering company

called USADATA has been employed to identify graduates who could be

persuaded to return to

Louisiana. By using public information such as driver’s license

files, telephone directories and tax records, the company

can identify those graduates who have married, changed their names

or moved. The project also involves tracking the densities

of where certain majors are living and their household incomes.

State Commissioner of Higher Education Jim Purcell said the project will also analyze the spending habits of these graduates,

what they like to do for recreation and will identify whether they live in urban or rural communities.

This information will give state workforce agencies opportunities to target job fairs in cities that have significant numbers

of Louisiana natives, Purcell said.

Some of USADATA findings:

Between 1980 and 2010, 600,000 people left the state to work elsewhere.

The majority of people who moved out of state moved to either Texas, Mississippi, California, Florida or Georgia.

Not everyone leaves. A large percentage of graduates examined, 85 percent, stayed in Louisiana. Part of the initiative is

to also make these graduates aware of job openings around them.

We’ve long been hearing about Louisiana’s brain drain. Any effort to reverse the trend of educated people leaving Louisiana

to find jobs, and to bring them home again, is to be applauded.

Our area’s economic forecast predicts that high-paying jobs are on the horizon, providing a golden opportunity for former

Louisiana residents to come home and partake.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.