POINT: Those damn kids. They move around. They change jobs like they change their ... facebook statuses. No loyalty. No work ethic. No social conscience.
COUNTERPOINT: This generation of young X-ers and Y's are highly mobile, highly educated, in demand and highly demanding. They can live anywhere, work anywhere (will literally explore 10+ careers in their lifetimes) and they know it. They demand change and want to feel an emotional bandwidth with the causes and people they support.
Love 'em or hate 'em, if you live in a mid-sized North American city, post-2010 and the impending workforce shortage, you're going to be begging for them ... and competing with every other mid-sized city cross-coasts and countries to attract, retain and engage them.
Even if you don't believe in their wealth-generating capacity, in their inherent ability and desire to start businesses and social enterprises and effect change, your aging tax base --and future knowledge economy-- needs them.
Our community has the distinct privilege of being one of five in our province to be a destination for TVO's The Agenda "On the Road" AgendaCamp series.
Yesterday, a few hundred visionary citizens gathered to discuss a new path for our community and the pressing issues that will affect our collective economic future. (Instead of attending, we opted to sit for hours with our toddler in a walk-in clinic.)
Among the top discussion topics was the attraction and retention of our next gen. Why would/should young talent want to stay/live/work/invest in <insert your mid-sized city here>?
And so here's our (unsolicited) two-cents on the topic:
1. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. The young-ins might stay for quality of life but they'll come initially for employment. Exciting jobs that are progressive in salary, advancement opportunity, and most importantly, in their flexible, development rich and bureaucracy poor, structure. (Yes, we acknowledge all must "pay their dues" but as an emerging thought leader in our community tells us, "the most talented tend to chose to go wait in a city that’s a lot more fun in the mean time". Well said ... and that leads us to the next point ...
2. The Bandwidth. Regardless of age, we all want to be a part of something exciting. Something dynamic. Something, ahem, remarkable. Ahead of: time / the curve / the next guy. Dare we say, something SEXY?? So, how does a mid-sized city up its sexiness?? With rich culture -- indy music, performance art, interactive culture -- with diversity and pride beyond dated social or ethnocentric conventions, with opportunities for new citizens to contribute meaningfully and shape directions, and with both grassroots and conventional leadership willing to take risks, overturn convention, and (gasp!) even collaborate.
There's this stuff, and the need for smart transit, a commitment to green and sustainable urban development, progressive arts infrastructure, an entrepreneurial culture ....
So, where's a city to start? We think dialogue's a pretty good place.
Check out The Agenda live tonight.