Helping Youth Make Their Place in Halifax

A few years ago, Lauren Sears realized that many young people were leaving Halifax to go to bigger cities like Toronto, not because they wanted to, but because they felt they had to in order to get the career they wanted.

“Educated talent really is Nova Scotia’s best export,” says the Director of Business Development for Common Good Solutions (CGS) and Placemaker for Placemaking 4G (P4G) with a smile. These two organizations located in the heart of Halifax share the same goal as Lauren: keeping youth in Halifax and in Nova Scotia by showcasing the opportunities we have here. “It’s about helping youth see the opportunities that exist in Atlantic Canada. It’s a perception issue. CGS and P4G are working together to change that perception.”

With a staff that is over 80% youth, and winner of the 2018 Game Changers Best Youth Employer Award - Small Business Category, CGS knows the value in having young people as an integral part of an organization.

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From working firsthand in a youth-dominated organization like CGS to working externally with employers all over the city that need energetic young people, Lauren knew something had to change. That is when she and two fellow youth advocates, Bradley Daye and Matt Thomson, came up with the idea for Placemaking 4G. P4G is an innovative recruitment firm specializing in finding values-aligned, young professionals for employers all over the province and throughout Atlantic Canada. “To me, placemaking is an intentional creation of place. It’s by design that we build the community we want to see, everything from infrastructure to amenities, but most importantly the culture,” says Lauren. P4G’s goal is to change the narrative around what it means to live, work, and play on the East Coast.

Recently, P4G launched the #WhyHere campaign featuring people who made the choice to stay in Halifax. It shows and promotes the lifestyle that Halifax has to offer. “We hope that after seeing the opportunities that helped people choose to come and stay here, youth will realize everything they need is here as well,” says Lauren. “#WhyHere was launched in Halifax but will eventually become a travelling roadshow across provinces, showcasing the benefits of Atlantic Canada to all”.


Lauren also notes that while CGS and P4G are passionate about their role in keeping youth here, everyone has a part to play. “Organizations must be willing to welcome the enthusiastic, intelligent drivers with open arms. Businesses have an obligation to their community, to strengthen everything around them." She believes Halifax businesses can start by giving youth a chance.

Her most important advice to a business that is ready to take that chance? “Be prepared to teach, but even more prepared to learn.”

Organizations like CGS and P4G are changing the game for youth in our city. To learn more about how your organization can get involved in being a Game Changer for youth retention, visit