Pittsburgh's diverse labor market and small-city atmosphere make it attractive to young people, according to a panel at the University of Pittsburgh on Tuesday, but the city should do more to attract young adults of diverse ethnicities, and local youngsters should vote more often.
The panel discussion, "The Truth about Young Adults in Pittsburgh," was hosted by PittsburghTODAY just days before the city hosts the One Young World Summit tackling issues of global importance. Nine panelists from Pittsburgh-based institutions analyzed PittsburghTODAY's recent Young Adults Report 2012 and offered their views on the city's young adult population.
Vera Krofcheck, Director of Strategy & Research at the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board, said Pittsburgh's labor market is unusually diverse, making it attractive to young people both near and far.
"The young people making choices about their careers, they don't have to compromise their career aspirations, or they don't have to leave. They can really find opportunities right here locally," said Krofcheck. "It also works the other way around: we can attract people who went to school or got their first experiences somewhere else."
However, Vibrant Pittsburgh CEO Melanie Harrington said she thinks the local economy could be improved if the city markets itself to young families of diverse ethnicities.
"I think telling the story, raising up the visibility of the diverse communities that we do have in the region, leveraging them as magnets for more diverse talent -- all become solutions and strategies for growing the diversity of our region," said Harrington.
Aside from the economy, Bike Pittsburgh Executive Director Scott Bricker said he thinks one of the reasons young adults are attracted to Pittsburgh is that it's a small city where one person can make a noticeable change.
"It's one of those places that's up and coming, that someone can get their hands dirty, that someone can actually form an organization that hasn't been formed before, and make quite a difference," said Bricker. He noted that bicycle riding has taken off in Pittsburgh since his 2001 founding of Bike Pittsburgh as a recent Carnegie Mellon University graduate.
About a quarter of Pittsburgh's young adults don't vote at all, according to the Young Adult Report 2012. State House candidate Erin Molchany said citywide organizations should make a better effort to register young people to vote and rouse them to the polls for each election.
Pittsburghers may be hearing a lot about young folk in the days to come, as the One Young World Summit brings in roughly 1,500 young people from across the globe from Thursday to Monday.