I recently heard a national site selector say that one of the most important factors for her clients when considering where to locate their operations is a “sticky” workforce.
She explained: Sure, everyone is concerned about workforce availability. But you’ve got to ensure you’ll have a workforce in the future, not just today. And one of the things that enables that future workforce is: do graduates of local colleges and universities stick around and work in the local community? Or do they pack their bags and move to more attractive places with job opportunities in their field? If young people get their first post-graduate job in the community where they studied, they’re more likely to put down roots and stay for their next job and the one after that.
On the “stickiness” score, Metro Denver does extremely well. Just look at the two universities in the heart of downtown Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver and University of Colorado Denver.
MSU Denver, a leading public urban university, serves primarily local students with an average age of 25. So it’s not surprising that the majority of those students choose to remain here after they graduate: 79 percent stay in Colorado, and 64 percent stay in Metro Denver. Most importantly, those students are getting degrees and going to work in the industry clusters that are propelling Denver’s economy: information technology, financial services, health care, aviation and aerospace (MSU Denver has one of the strongest aviation programs in the country).
The University of Colorado Denver – which combines a downtown Denver campus and the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora – is one of the national’s top public urban research universities and grants more graduate degrees than any other university in the state. More than two-thirds of CU Denver’s graduates remain in Colorado – meaning that graduates from UC Denver’s College of Business (one of the strongest in the West and among the ten largest nationally) and the Schools of Medicine, Pharmacy and Nursing, among many other programs, are available to fuel the region’s economic engine.
In addition to these urban universities, Denver hosts notable liberal arts colleges, such as Regis University and top-ranked University of Denver, both of which contribute to our highly-trained workforce. And, of course, the flagship campuses for CU and Colorado State University (another highly-ranked public research university) are just short drives away in Boulder and Fort Collins, respectively. Students from all these schools also tend to remain in Colorado.
In short, we grow our own workforce here. Businesses looking to locate in Metro Denver can be assured that our institutions of higher learning are providing not just the workforce we need now, but one that is likely to remain for the future.