TORONTO, ON–YouthfulCities launched its inaugural Urban Work Index on February 4th, the first of its kind to look specifically at urban work in Canada. The Index, which was funded by RBC Future Launch, ranks 21 Canadian cities based on 48 urban work indicators, and found Edmonton to be the top-ranked city in the country. Edmonton scored 713.86 points out of a possible 1,310 available points.
“As Canada’s population ages, we need to make sure our cities are vibrant places for youth to work,” says YouthfulCities Co-founder Robert Barnard. “Using this new Index as inspiration, we have a challenge for Canada and Canadian cities: make full youth employment (youth unemployment below 6%) a goal by 2024. Clearly, we can, and we need to do more. We need to spark a national dialogue on the future of urban work and youth’s critical role in it.”
With 87% of Canadian youth aged 15-29 living in cities, the YouthfulCities Urban Work Index creates a way for youth to explore the best cities for them to work. It uses an expansive, youth-driven definition for work that includes four thematic areas: Education (affordability, access, work-integrated learning experiences), Entrepreneurship (spirit, spaces, programming) Affordability (housing, utilities, transportation, food/clothing, leisure, health) and Employment (basic, career-oriented, city economic profile, programs).
Canadian cities were ranked out of a total 1,310 points based on scores on 48 urban work indicators. The results are:
7-Quebec City (645.90)
11-St. John’s (620.34)
Valerie Chort, Vice-President, Corporate Citizenship, RBC, sees a clear link between the YouthfulCities Urban Work Index and RBC’s commitment to empowering Canadian youth for the jobs of tomorrow through RBC Future Launch.
“Canada’s job market is changing and we have a collective opportunity to help young people prepare for, and navigate the ambiguities of the future,” says Chort. “The Urban Work Index aims to expand the dialogue around urban work to include government, educators, public sector, not-for-profits and most importantly young people. The Index is not a list of winners and losers, instead it provides a closer look at the opportunities that exist within our urban centres. It helps validate the investments we’re already making in our communities and suggests where more support is needed.”
The top three Canadian cities in the Urban Work Index — Edmonton, Montreal and Ottawa — each demonstrated different strengths. Edmonton’s greatest strength was its consistency, with a number of top-ten finishes across all four themes. Overall, Montreal is a great city for youth to work, but the city didn’t take top spot due to its higher cost of living. Ottawa’s most notable strength, on the other hand, is tied to its affordability, but the city ranks lower on employment measures such as youth full-time jobs.
No matter the ranking, all Canadian cities have something to celebrate. Based on the Urban Work Index, Halifax takes top spot in new jobs created (followed by St. John’s and Kitchener/Waterloo), and Sudbury has the most affordable rent (followed by St. John’s and Hamilton). Winnipeg is tied for first with Vancouver and Victoria on the Indigenous Education scale, and Yellowknife might be the best place for young women to work given its top place on the Gender Parity Scale (followed by Hamilton and Charlottetown).
“While there is room for improvement across the board, all 21 cities ranked near the top in one or more indicators. Let’s use that as a great starting place to build from.” Barnard says.
How the cities were ranked
The YouthfulCities Canadian Urban Work Index ranked the 21 cities across 16 Urban Work Attributes using a total of 48 indicators. The indicator data consists of primary and secondary data collected by young urban researchers in each community. Data is collected locally, submitted using collaborative, cloud-based research workbooks, checked centrally, normalized and then scored to create rankings for all 21 cities.
Since 2012, YouthfulCities has designed programs that build a unique base of urban knowledge while engaging youth (15-29 years) to design and develop innovative solutions to their cities’ critical issues. Our urban indexes ignite an important dialogue about the importance of youth to the future of cities.
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