‘Drastic decline’ of young adults calling Alberta home: report

File: A woman walks into Mount Royal University on March 22, 2022. Global News

For the past six years, Alberta’s young adults aren’t choosing to stay in the province to plant their roots.

A new report from the Canada West Foundation, dubbed The Young are Restless: Western youth migration, along with its companion piece, Work to Live: Alberta youth mobility found a ‘drastic decline’ in young Albertans wanting to stay in the province due to a variety of reasons, including perception, diversity and career choice.

The study surveyed youth in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.

The report claims young adults move at three main decision points: at graduation from high school when they may leave home to study; on graduation from post-secondary education when they move to begin their careers; and five to 10 years into their careers when they move to advance their careers or to settle down and raise a family.

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While youth in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan have experienced net out-migration over most of the last 50 years, Alberta and British Columbia tend to see youth move back and forth between them with the ups and downs in their economies, with British Columbia seeing net gains since 2014, the report stated.

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In the past 30 years or so, Alberta was a popular spot to stay put when it came to youth migration; the report even called the province “a beneficiary” of sorts. However, since about 2015, there’s been a decline of those aged 24-29 and 30-34-year-old sub-cohorts.

The authors call it a complete reversal as to what the picture from the past painted, citing more 25 to 29-year-olds have moved out of Alberta than moved into the province between 2015 and 2021.

“Many of these young people believe that to build their life, in the area they want to build their life, over the long term, isn’t in something that is in Alberta,” said David Finch co-author of the report and Mount Royal University professor.

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“That is some misperception because the reality is, there are enormous diverse opportunities here.”

The study pointed out youth in Alberta, Vancouver and Toronto perceive Alberta to not offer a breadth of career choices, that the province lacks vibrancy and that there is a lack of inclusion of diversity.

To read the full report, click here.

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