The Young Professional Association of Louisville has released research findings and recommendations made by the eighteen graduates of its Fall 2016 Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) – a three-month accelerated and intensive development program for young professionals. The class chose to research “Quality of Life for Young Professionals” – focusing on parks and recreation as well as special events and festivals – and “Professional Development” – focusing on why young professionals engaged with YPAL and similar groups and what holds them back from increased engagement.

Their research revealed that the Greater Louisville area offers an abundance of opportunities for professional development, recreation, special events and festivals – important elements of talent attraction and retention but would benefit from improved marketing of these assets.

Parks & Recreation

Research surrounding parks and recreation opportunities revealed that young professionals:

  • Want to lead more active, healthier lifestyles and welcome creative programming and recreational opportunities;
  • Are pleased with the Louisville Metro Parks system;
  • Want more creative programs that focus on fitness and relaxation;
  • Most value hiking trails, boat rentals, community gardens, bike trails and bookable event spaces as recreational offerings;
  • Desire a more centralized system for finding special events and festivals

Professional Development 

Research surrounding professional development revealed young professionals:

  • Want a wider variety of times and locations for networking and professional development events;
  • Would like to see more events specific to their industry;
  • Seek development opportunities geared toward small businesses and entrepreneurs;
  • Want more collaboration among young professional groups, the city of Louisville, nonprofits, and schools;
  • Would like to see young professionals working together on a larger scale to make a bigger impact on the community as a whole.
  • In all research areas, the ELP class found that while Louisville is not lacking in recreational resources or professional development opportunities, it would benefit from improved education and marketing efforts around them.

“This ELP class focused on some of the top categories identified by young professionals in our area and explored these categories through additional research such as focus groups, interviews, survey data and the comparison of our peer communities,” said Haley James, director of professional development for YPAL. “From this they were able to make recommendations to improve talent attraction within our community.”

Recommendations from the class include:

  • Creation of a centralized search engine that provides easy access to all recreational activities and special events in the metro area;
  • Development of neighborhood associations for area parks;
  • Improvements to existing bookable event space facilities;
  • Increased walkable park access;
  • Development of community gardens;
  • Increasing young professional volunteer opportunities;
  • Expanded times and locations for professional development events;
  • Guided and facilitated networking;
  • Expanded times and locations of YPAL events; and
  • Greater collaboration among young professional groups, employers and GLI to provide development opportunities geared toward small businesses and entrepreneurs.

“How Louisville attracts, retains and engages young professionals is the founding reason our organization was developed,” said Chris Nation, president of YPAL. “Throughout the years we have collaborated with and developed initiatives to help Louisville have a growing young professional community. The findings by our recent Emerging Leaders class were quite clear in showing that Louisville has many assets and opportunities available but needs to better communicate them. We will be sharing these findings with those in Metro Government, GLI, and other organizations to help equip and inform their own talent and marketing initiatives.”

The Emerging Leaders Program is presented by Yum! Brands, Northwestern Mutual, Underhill Associates & YPAL Cares, and includes twenty hours of training led by Chris Schulz, Learning Manager with Humana. For more information about the Fall 2015 ELP graduates, click here.

Interested in being in the ELP, or know someone who should participate? Applications for the Spring 2017 ELP class will open on January 31. YPAL encourages anyone interested to attend our Drinks & Details event more information.

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