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UNA degree programs curbing “brain drain”

Published: Nov. 21, 2021 at 9:33 AM CST
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FLORENCE, Ala. (WAFF) - Leaders with the University of North Alabama in Florence are creating programs, with the goal to help students who graduate, find jobs in the state, instead of taking their talents somewhere else.

Brain drain is a phrase used by politicians, that refers to people leaving an area due to lack of opportunity.

Leaders at the University of North Alabama are focusing to help graduates find good jobs in Alabama straight out of college, one way to decrease brain drain.

“It is our honor and obligation to work with economic authorities, local governments attract and retain employers here in the region and then also supply the trained workforce for them for their jobs,” said UNA Provost Ross Alexander.

Brain Drain is an issue across the state of Alabama and its public universities.

So much so that the state has dedicated $800,000 to a program called “Retain Alabama” to try to decrease brain drain.

Being a regional college, Provost Ross Alexander said that their student body is a bit different from those of Auburn University and the University of Alabama. More than 75% of UNA’s student population is from Alabama while other universities’ non-traditional student population is much higher.

Alexander said at least 75% of UNA graduates stay in the state of Alabama upon graduation.

One of those graduates is Kat Davis who graduated this year.

“Well I never ever thought I would be back here but when I started going to UNA, I absolutely fell in love with it,” said Davis.

Ross credits their workforce development majors and partnerships between local entities like Huntsville hospital and local school districts for keeping alum in Alabama.

“We’ve oriented our academic infrastructure and our focus admission around workforce development and partnering directly with large employees and firms who are offering high paying jobs here in the state and then having our degree programs lead directly to those jobs,” said Alexander.

Davis agrees. She said her required senior internship made a big difference.

“And that made me realize that there is such a huge, young professional community here and there’s so many opportunities for people graduating UNA. There’s so many job opportunities and so many connections,” said Alexander.

Decreasing brain drain helps Alabama’s economy. The more people who stay means more jobs and pouring into the local economy they live in.

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