Missed Opportunity For Keeping Young Workers in Vermont

Attention all young workers! Vermont wants you.

It was all over the news last month. Governor Phil Scott just approved legislation that will pay 100 people as much as $10,000 to relocate to the Green Mountain State and work remotely. In order to qualify, applicants must be employed full-time by a non-Vermont based business and become a resident of our state in 2019.

The story spread fast, popping up on Forbes, CNN, CNBC, and other news outlets across the country.

It’s no secret among us locals that the state is having a tough time keeping young workers around. The problem is not unique to us either – many states across the northeast are facing similar challenges – although it’s fair to assume rural areas like ours are feeling the brunt of the impact.

This new program is a great step in the right direction, but a lot more needs to be done about our technical infrastructure.

We have a great opportunity to retain and grow our workforce, and if we don’t act quickly we will miss out.

Remote Work is the Future

We have an internet problem in Vermont. That’s not a secret either, and this is one problem we cannot afford not to fix.

Check your newsfeed on LinkedIn right now and look at any article about Millennials in the workplace.

According to the Pew Research Center, these people make up the largest generation in our workforce. They are tech savvy, they value experience over money, and they seek a work-life balance that offers some flexibility.

Businesses everywhere are hiring remote workers to fill their ranks. It makes sense. Who wouldn’t want to hire the very best talent, regardless of where they live? Remote work and flex-schedules used to be a perk that gave one employer an advantage over another. Now, in many industries, it is an expectation.

The longer we wait to deliver high-speed broadband to all corners of the state, the less competitive Vermont will be in the future.

Vermont Will Never Compete With Big Cities, But…

I think we can agree that our little state will never compete with major metro areas that offer the culture, nightlife, and hustle that attracts young adults. That’s okay. Big cities are cool to some people, but they are also expensive. Employees can’t afford to live where the action is, so they move out to the suburbs and drive long, exhausting commutes to offices that aren’t interested in remote workers.

But many employers do let people work from home.

If some folks would rather live where they can ski, enjoy a little breathing space, and earn a good wage while living a calmer, simpler life, why wouldn’t we make it as easy as possible for them to do that here?

People can live in Vermont, and work anywhere in the world.

Rural communities could see a rise in entrepreneurship and innovation, fostering businesses that can grow and prosper. And the benefits won’t stop just with retaining young workers.

Businesses like ours depend on high speed connectivity to do our jobs. Ninety-percent of the tasks we handle for our business clients can be handled without us setting foot in their offices. As long as they have power and an internet connection – we can take care of almost any issue quickly and efficiently.

Bringing quality, reliable broadband to all towns in Vermont is not just a productive way to work. It’s a smarter way to prepare for the future.

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