Turning the Tide on Youth Outmigration

February 19, 2019

Chasm graphic 2019
Written by: John Rogers, Interim President & CEO, Halifax Partnership

The landscape of youth retention in Nova Scotia is very different today than it was just a few years ago.

In 2014, research in the Now or Never Report and findings from the Partnership’s own research team showed that our province was facing an economic and population crisis. Data showed that young people were leaving the province at an alarming rate.

Every year, an average of net 1,300 young people aged 20 to 29 left Nova Scotia to live elsewhere in Canada, taking their talent, energy and income with them.

As a province, we were facing long-term economic decline unless something changed. We needed to take action.

In 2015, the Partnership, together with the private, public, and post-secondary sectors, launched the Game Changers Youth Retention Action Plan, a three-year strategic initiative to engage the local business community in youth retention. We knew that Halifax businesses had the ability to drive change and provide job opportunities for our young talent, increasing their chances of developing a career here and putting down roots.

We asked businesses to do three things:

  • Hire youth
  • Provide experiential learning opportunities
  • Become a Connector.

Our goal was ambitious. We set out to collectively decrease Nova Scotia’s annual net loss of youth from 1,300 to 0 in three years.

We are proud and excited to share that together, we not only reached this goal, but we surpassed it. Recently released data from Statistics Canada show that our Year 2 results have been revised to a gain of 252 youth.

This is the first time Nova Scotia has seen a positive migration of youth ages 20-29 in over 30 years.

The year-over-year results are very encouraging and are the start of what we hope is a long-term trend in retaining graduates and young professionals in Nova Scotia.

  • Year 1 (2015-16): 222 net loss
  • Year 2 (2016-17): 252 net gain
  • Year 3 (2017-18): 152 net gain

Today, we have more talented, educated young people who are starting and growing their careers in our province. More people contributing to the economy. More people who may start and grow families. And more possibilities for the next generation of Game Changers.

 

We have made incredible progress as a region, but we need to continue our momentum to ensure sustained economic growth. Looking to the future, the Halifax Partnership is currently engaging with the private, public, and post-secondary sectors to develop the next evolution of Game Changers.

While we work with partners on this new initiative, we continue to bridge the gap between employers and young professionals through our Connector Program and Experiential Learning Initiative. In March we are once again hosting the #HireMeHalifax pitch competition and networking event for employers, students and recent graduates. We are also launching the Connector+ digital platform across the province, which will connect even more graduates with industry professionals and career opportunities in their fields. If your business or organization is looking for new talent, I encourage you to attend #HireMeHalifax and take advantage of the Partnership’s labour market programs.  

Our city and province have an incredible opportunity to become a top location for young people to start and grow their careers. Let’s celebrate our collective success and continue to work hard to make this happen.