NPI and SEO team-up to launch youth out-migration survey

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer
kkellar@fortfrances.com

If you’re between the ages of 16 and 30, a new survey has been launched to get your opinion on what life is like in your small northern Ontario town and what can be done to make it better.

As part of a joint venture between the Northern Policy Institute (NPI) and the Société Économique de l’Ontario/Ontario Economic Society (SEO), the two organizations are hosting a Youth Out-Migration survey intended to gauge the interests and issues facing young people and potential entrepreneurs as they weigh the pros and cons of living in their home communities or moving on to greener pastures.

Available in both English and French, the 21-question survey is geared towards determining how young people feel about the opportunities available to them in their communities on a professional level, as well as from the perspective of a potential entrepreneurial enterprise. Questions also include what community the participant is from, whether young people feel valued in their home communities, what kind of amenities they would like to see and if they feel starting a business is viable. The survey will be open for four weeks, from September 9 to October 7.

Mireille Dupuis is a project officer for the JeunInno program of the SEO, and she reinforced the purpose of the survey is help combat the exodus of young people from small communities across the north of the province.

“It’s basically to gauge their interests in staying within their small communities, to see if they also want to become entrepreneurs to help their communities grow,” Dupuis said.

“The survey results will help inform current efforts geared towards combating youth out-migration in northern communities, and to help understand how youth can continue to contribute to their communities.”

Dupuis explained the mandate of the JeunInno is to work to combat the exodus of young professionals from these northern communities, hence a survey intended to find out where the problem areas are, and how they can be addressed.

“We basically wanted to see where our general youth are at and what’s making them leave, what’s making them stay,” Dupuis said.

“Or what could make them want to stay, like if they see different infrastructures or different activities organized in their communities, or different opportunities that are there for them. That’s where it’s coming from.”

The ongoing retention and return of young people to northern communities is a big concern, especially as the populations of those communities tend to skew older. As those populations age and retire, businesses and services will continue to be pressed for young workers and entrepreneurs.

“Youth out-migration is a huge problem,” Dupuis said.

“In most small communities, you can tell they’re starter families, young couples with young children, or on the other side you have retirees coming back to their home towns to retire. But there’s not much opportunity for the business class, for that age range of workers that would want to stay, unless it’s retail work, but we don’t want that to be the best opportunity. We want to be able to provide something else on a professional level.”

Dupuis said that her program JeunInno is geared more towards high school students, but when they were putting the survey together they widened the age range to get a better spread of data from people with different levels of life and professional experience.

“We wanted to know what the little bit older demographic that has the current life experience, having gone through high school and onto college or university, or decided to stay in their communities, we wanted that demographic,” Dupuis said.

“We wanted their insight and guidance. I think that’s a pretty valuable perspective to capture.”

Once the survey closes in early October, the NPI will format and tally the data received. Dupuis said from there the organizations will have a bit more insight into the trends of young people as it pertains to northern communities and will assist them in tailoring their programs to better serve that demographic. The survey results will also allow the organizations to target specific trends in specific communities.

“Because we’ve specified the survey so that we know who we sent it to, which area, we’ll be able to pinpoint and say ‘this areas needs more youth entrepreneurship programs and this other area needs more leadership guidance programs,'” Dupuis said.

For more information about the Youth Out-Migration survey, visit the NPI Facebook page.

To access the english survey go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/87VGJ68.

For the french survey visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8C9Y59V.

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