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Survey shows post-secondary grads not happy with what Kelowna has to offer

A lack of jobs, social, arts and entertainment options and what they perceive as an "out-dated and conservative" local government mentality is driving university and college graduates out of the Okanagan, according to a new survey conducted by the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission.

The Okanagan Young Professionals (OYP) Collective, a program of theCOEDC, released the findings of its survey of students and alumni from Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan Friday.

While a majority of respondents appear to like the Okanagan and will definitely or probably stay here, 20 per cent of the 341 respondents to the survey said they will leave, or did leave, because there are not enough social, arts and entertainment options available here.

A total of 12.8 per cent of students and 7.3 per cent alumni cited an out-dated and conservative local government mentality as a reason for leaving.

The survey was aimed at quantifying what the OYP Collective said was once only anecdotal evidence as to why students and alumni are leaving the Okanaganwhat it would take to get them to come back.

“It’s so exciting to finally have numbers on the subject of grad retention and alumni attraction," said  Donnie Ungaro, young professionals culture officer with the EDC.

"For so long it was only assumptions and anecdotes. We now know how many plan on leaving but more importantly what their priorities are in returning to the Okanagan.  From this we can focus our programming and efforts based on these priorities and start attracting young professionals back to the Okanagan.”

The study found 63 per cent of students “definitely to probably” will stay in the Okanagan, 58 per cent of alumni stayed in the Okanagan after graduation and 63.4 per cent of alumni cited a lack of jobs here as a reason for leaving.

Of the 61 per cent of alumni who said they thinking of returning, 43 per cent indicated the consideration was prompted due to getting married or starting a family.

Fifty-seven per cent of alumni and 49 per cent of students said they would consider buying or starting a business here.

The survey also asked respondents about entrepreneurism and housing costs.

The student and alumni survey included 341 respondents out of a student and alumni total population of 23,000. The survey has a confidence level of 95 per cent, say its authors.

A full copy of the report, more information on the OYP Collective and other COEDC programs can be found at http://www.investkelowna.com/resources and www.oypcollective.com.

 

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