Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Brain Drain Report: Calgary

Relative to the rest of Canada, Alberta is booming. Jobs attract people and the Canadian province continues to grow:

Alberta has attracted new residents for years as the province boasted the country's strongest economic expansion and job creation. The trend continued in the second quarter of this year, even as the province's economy slowed.

I've noticed that no matter how good the numbers look, residents still fret about brain drain:

As a University of Calgary student set to graduate in the next year, I will be soon faced with the same predicament that has faced so many of my colleagues before me: to stay in Calgary, or to move elsewhere.

Over the past several years, I have noted a high rate of migration among recent post-secondary graduates to cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. The reason for their departure is generally the same: recent graduates are looking for the exciting cultural scene and vibrant urbanity these cities offer.

As a large number of baby boomers approach retirement age, we face the threat of losing this demographic to cities that can offer more amenable living conditions as well. As Calgary's extended winter season can sometimes provide a less-than-ideal context to retire in, creating a vibrant and highly livable city must be a high priority.

How many graduates from universities in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal move to Calgary? When local young talent leaves, the automatic response is that something is wrong. The same anxiety plagues growing and shrinking places alike. I've blogged about Vancouver's brain drain complaints. You might know about Montreal's struggles with retaining talent, particularly Anglophones. But Calgary takes the cake.

Given the ubiquity of the complaint, why is brain drain at the heart of so much workforce development policy?

No comments: