Economic forecast offers opportunity for N.H. businesses and UNH
The state's slow but steady economic recovery offers some promising news for college students: with the right skills, they will be in demand. By 2018, economists predict that 64 percent of New Hampshire's jobs will require a post-secondary degree. Currently, only 46 percent of New Hampshire adults have a two-year degree or higher.
Already, such economic forecasts are helping New Hampshire businesses and UNH develop new partnerships to better respond to the changing economy.
"UNH can and should be the primary engine for sustainable economic growth in the state," said Jan Nisbet, senior vice provost for research at UNH. "We need to continue to build strong relationships with the private sector that will create jobs, support research partnerships, encourage a more entrepreneurial spirit throughout the state, and provide our students with a world-class education."
Ross Gittell, the James R. Carter Professor of Management at UNH, joined a half-dozen noted economists in a two-day briefing on the economy for state lawmakers in December. Legislators will use the forecasts as they take up proposed legislation and budget issues in the new session.
Gittell, who was recently named chancellor-elect to the Community College System of New Hampshire, predicted that the state's economy will continue to grow slowly for 2012 and not pick up momentum (with employment growing more than 2 percent a year) until 2014.
He also noted that the recovery offers particularly good prospects in several job sectors. Those expected to grow faster in New Hampshire than in the rest of the nation include professional and business services, information services, high technology, and leisure and hospitality services. Sectors that are expected to grow more slowly include construction, manufacturing, trade, and finance.
The challenge for higher education, Gittell said, is to create partnerships with businesses that anticipate the transforming economy.
"We have great students," Gittell told lawmakers in Concord. "We have to ensure in higher education that we are linking them to opportunities in the economy."
Making UNH the primary engine for sustainable economic growth is a top priority of the University's 10-year strategic plan.
UNH recently boosted its efforts to promote business partnerships by hiring Steve Marchand, former mayor of Portsmouth, N.H., to serve as director of corporate relations. Marchand, who started the job on January 3, is charged with strengthening the relationships between the University and business leaders throughout the state.
"The future success of New Hampshire's economy is closely linked to the future success of UNH," Marchand said. "This position gives me the opportunity to combine my two passions—education and entrepreneurialism—as we partner across the state and beyond with the private sector to work toward the same goals: strength and sustainability in our job market, our skilled workforce, and our culture of globally-competitive innovation."