In the 2018 Wyoming Gubernatorial Debate at Sheridan College, the topic of Wyoming’s aging population and potential workforce shortage took center stage. As the number of people aged 65 and older in the state continues to grow, Wyoming faces the challenge of attracting and retaining younger workers. This article will discuss the candidates’ perspectives on this issue and explore potential solutions to encourage millennials to choose Wyoming as their place of residence.
Providing Opportunities Through Education
One common thread among the candidates was the importance of education in retaining young workers. Dr. Taylor Haynes, a Republican candidate, emphasized the need to restructure education to keep young people in the state. He proposed offering students a choice between a university track or a vocational track, including traditional trades and information technology. By equipping students with the necessary skills and knowledge, Wyoming can develop a diversified workforce that meets the demands of the future job market.
Diversifying the Economy and Cutting Taxes
Another strategy discussed by the candidates was the need to diversify Wyoming’s economy. By reducing reliance on industries like energy and agriculture, the state can attract a broader range of businesses and jobs. Republican candidate Mark Gordon, current Wyoming state treasurer, highlighted the need to build a support structure and create economic opportunities that encourage entrepreneurialism. He also emphasized the importance of investing in the education system to support economic growth.
Foster Friess, another Republican candidate, suggested that local communities should take an entrepreneurial approach to make Wyoming an exciting place for young people. Friess shared an example of a person who commuted across state lines for a better gymnasium, illustrating the need for communities to create amenities that appeal to millennials. Additionally, he stressed the importance of adapting to new technologies to create a pleasant environment for young workers.
Improving Amenities and Education
Democratic candidate Mary Throne echoed the sentiments of her fellow candidates, emphasizing the need for amenities, quality K-12 education, and job opportunities to attract and retain millennials. She shared an anecdote about a woman from Casper who had to move to Fort Collins because there were no suitable jobs for her as an architectural engineer in Wyoming. Throne believes that by focusing on improving these aspects, Wyoming can offer the same opportunities she experienced growing up in the state.
As Wyoming faces an aging population and potential workforce shortage, it is vital to address the concerns of younger generations and provide them with compelling reasons to choose the state as their home. The candidates highlighted various strategies, including restructuring education, diversifying the economy, and improving amenities and education. By adopting these solutions, Wyoming can retain and recruit young workers, ensuring a prosperous future for the state.
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