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First Ascent is an efficient first step

From the second Ascend WV — the distant work program providing money and recreation incentives to out-of-state staff — was revealed, individuals (together with us) requested, “What about West Virginians who need to keep however can’t afford to?”

WVU and Marshall appeared to have listened. On the annual Chamber of Commerce Convention final week, leaders from the state’s two largest colleges introduced the First Ascent program. First Ascent is much like Ascend WV however will probably be open to WVU and Marshall college students of their final 12 months of college and/or who’ve graduated throughout the final 12 months; and who’re working or have a proposal to work distant/hybrid or have an entrepreneurial supply. (In line with its website, this system will hyperlink people who aren’t working distant with WVU and Marshall alumni who could possibly assist them get a job supply.)

First Ascent gives most of the identical leisure perks and co-working areas as its predecessor, plus a distant work certificates program. It doesn’t, nonetheless, supply the identical money incentive as Ascend WV.

After we heard about First Ascent, our first thought was “It’s about time.” West Virginia has been struggling a mind drain for many years, and it’s solely gotten worse because the Mountain State has failed to supply financial alternative for the extremely educated and expert. School graduates have fled for locales that may supply jobs and careers in keeping with their levels — in addition to an honest paycheck.

However West Virginians worth their roots.  Some have roots so deep they’ll’t fathom residing anyplace else. Which implies they’ve settled for minimal wage jobs that make no use of their schooling or pursued work unrelated to their expertise and passions. As a result of that’s the compromise many younger West Virginians have needed to make: Accept much less — or go away.

First Ascent could also be step one to reversing the lengthy development of talent-loss and to balancing out the trade-offs so many have made simply to stay right here.

This system WVU and Marshall have crafted is a good place to begin. Nevertheless, now we have some suggestions for enchancment.

First, this system must be open to any West Virginia resident who graduated from an establishment of upper schooling in West Virginia. This might permit this system to assist a broader swath of younger individuals, in addition to achieve entry to a wider alumni community and extra funding prospects.

Second, as an alternative of being restricted to present seniors and really latest graduates, eligibility must be expanded to individuals who graduated within the final 5 years. We are saying this as a result of many younger professionals had been both simply coming into the workforce or simply changing into established of their careers when the pandemic hit. A lot of these had been the primary to lose their jobs (because the saying goes, “final in, first out”), and it’s been troublesome to interrupt again into the skilled labor pressure.

Lastly, whereas the First Ascent website does say it’s “completely happy to work with you to make sure a profitable transition to your new dwelling,” this system could want to supply some assist with shifting bills. It appears solely truthful contemplating Ascend WV members bought $12,000 money, ostensibly to assist them transfer to West Virginia — and of which solely 46% truly remained. The same supply for First Ascent can be an excellent higher funding; in spite of everything, these are West Virginians doing every thing they’ll to remain within the place they love.