Dear Mom & Dad,
I almost bought a one-way plane ticket to Australia today. I had my flight picked, my passport ready and credit card out.
This can’t come as a shock to you. A lot of my friends have already left Nova Scotia. Without full time, meaningful employment, us twenty-somethings are heading for places that see our value as recent graduates.
And it’s not just my friends who are leaving. Every year, 1,300 of our most talented, most vibrant, well- educated twenty-somethings pack up and leave. Not by choice. By economic necessity.
I had felt abandoned by my city -
my province - until this came in the mail:
The invitation signed by Halifax Mayor Mike Savage had only the barest details - just enough to pique my interest. This line - Even your great grandchildren will thank you - sounded hopeful.
And so I went to the event at the Paul O’Reagan Hall in the Halifax Central Library. The first thing I saw were massive posters with faces of university students just like me.
They each had a tidbit of a story to tell; reading them in sequence revealed the entire story: that these twenty-somethings have talent, vision, passion and drive and they have untapped potential.
Mom - you would have loved it. There were more than 200 people - the top business people, influencers, movers and shakers of the province. People were chatting, engaged and intrigued.
On our seats we found these four-page brochures:
It all made sense now - we were here to address the issue of youth retention. By being there and taking action, we were helping even our great grandchildren.
The CEO of the Halifax Partnership spoke and brought the issue of youth retention into focus:
Every year more than $1.2 billion in future earnings go somewhere else. Of those who stick it out for a while, 12 per cent remain unemployed and an incredible 42 per cent work in jobs that don’t require their university education.
This slide says it all:
The Halifax Partnership has a plan. It’s called Game Changers and it challenges the business community to hire youth right out of university instead of demanding five or more years of experience.
This is no act of charity. There’s a clear return on investment for businesses who hire youth. We are Game Changers. We are the future. We can stop the decline on a dime. Our best days are yet to come.
This short video, which played just before the mayor spoke, shows what we bring to the table:
A funny thing happened after the video played. People in the audience began looking at their phones, sharing what they saw, taking pictures. I checked out my social media feeds and saw #HireMeHalifax trending because of hundreds of these selfies:
It was obviously a cleverly co-ordinated effort because they were all using #HireMeHalifax. People in the audience - even parents - were joining in, tweeting and retweeting, so much that it trended No.3 across Canada for two hours.
Pretty impressive for a press conference . . . but that was only the start. Before the event was over, we had met one of the twenty-somethings and had been invited to the Mayor’s State of the Municipality address two days later at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon to hear more of her story.
There, in front of several hundred business leaders, this video played, showcasing Halifax and all it has to offer people like me:
No doubt you have heard about the events, the videos and the Game Changers program - it was all over the news that week. There were advertisements in the newspapers, magazines and online and even in elevators.
Magazine - Newspaper ads:
Watch where you are driving, mom and dad, because there are 24 billboards of me and my friends scattered throughout the city.