Calgary: Attracting young, bright minds

July 4, 2022
New Economy Talent
Riverwalk Lifestyle

Attraction and retention of skilled talent is imperative to support the growth and diversification of Calgary’s economy. The second New Economy LIVE of 2022 encouraged diverse perspectives and candid conversations about youth perceptions of Alberta and how to remain a competitive location for young, skilled talent. 

“The stories we must start telling about Calgary are the ones that make everyone feel like they belong,” said Dawson Thomas, Vice Chair, Alberta Student Executive Council. 

Building a skilled workforce of bright minds with big ideas is a priority in the economic strategy, Calgary in the New Economy. This requires an intentional path towards an economy that is inclusive and accessible to everyone. 

In a recent study led by Canada West Foundation, youth participants estimated between 40 and 70 per cent of Albertans work directly in oil and gas. The reality is under seven percent.  

“To bridge the reputation reality divide, we need to do a better job of sharing the depth and breadth of opportunities for youth in youth-friendly ways,” shared Janet Lane, Director Human Capital Centre, Canada West Foundation, who co-authored the study. 

With Calgary’s recent ranking by the Economist Intelligence Unit as the third most livable city in the world and the best major city to build a life in North America, panelists discussed the importance of sharing stories of vibrancy and opportunity to reach youth. 

"Calgary’s recent ranking as third most livable city is fantastic, and shows Calgary is a great place to live and work,” said Nicole Schmidt, President, University of Calgary Students’ Union. 

“But for students in post-secondary, it’s important to emphasize what our city is and what opportunities we have to grow into. Students want to see themselves contributing to the economy and want to see affordability in the city. Now more than ever it’s important to tell the stories that we are not just an energy industry city.”  

With Calgary businesses projected to spend nearly $7.5 billion across industries on digital transformation from 2021 to 2024, attracting a robust future-ready workforce with young talent is top of mind. 

"The story is the currency. We cannot blame young people for misinterpreting the story because we aren’t finetuning the nuance of how we’re telling the story,” said Alex Sarian, President and CEO, Arts Commons. 

To position Calgary as a great place to build a life, youth want to hear the city is welcoming to all, with opportunities in many sectors and lifestyle advantages, including a vibrant culinary, arts and culture scene. 

"This is a great city to live, but nothing is perfect. It is incumbent upon us for those that do see opportunity, to foster change,” said Marie Jurcevic, Sustainability Lead, ARC Resources.  

“There are opportunities for all of us to be a part of the change we want to see.” 

Part of this opportunity is having important conversations about community progress towards equity, diversity and inclusion and Indigenous Reconciliation.  

“We need more diversity, we need our leaders to be diverse, and we need diversity in experiences so people feel like they belong,” said Virigina Red Crow, Family & Natural Support Facilitator, Trellis Society. 

“How do we help those that have less than we do, and how do we look at our status in the world and begin to help people feel that they belong and can make change in this city?” reflected Red Crow. 

As the fastest growing tech hub in North America according to LinkedIn Talent Insights, and sixth best city for youth to work in Canada in 2021, the city is positioned to be home to a purpose-driven youth workforce. 

Together, Calgary can create a shared story where everyone has a role to play, and a place to belong. 

The New Economy LIVE event series aims to engage Calgarians in the economic strategy and the interconnected drivers that create long-term prosperity and an inclusive economy. In case you missed it, watch the full New Economy LIVE broadcast on our YouTube channel: New Economy LIVE: Competing for Young Talent. 

For more on #LifeinCalgary, watch our latest video directed by Ali Paracha ➤  Calgary: Home to everyone. 

"It did not take long for me to find a sense of belongingness. I truly felt like I was at home, which was the main inspiration behind this video. I love the people, I love the very unique culture that Calgary has, I love the ambitious energy, I love the peace and calm, I just love the city. This city can really become what you want it to become and that is why, it can be home to everyone!”


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