As 300 business leaders gathered to talk about the global recession’s impact on Halifax yesterday, a major theme emerged: the crucial impact of the city’s young people.


Keeping young talent in Halifax will help the municipality weather economic turbulence, said Alyson Queen with Fusion Halifax. She was one of several speakers at a forum hosted by Mayor Peter Kelly yesterday.


“We collectively need to get young people to see Halifax as their No. 1 choice because right now they don’t,” Queen said. “It’s not just a ‘nice to do’ because cities that act, attract.”


In a recent survey by Fusion, 75 per cent of respondents in the 20 to 40 age category said they’d stay in Halifax for the right opportunity, but 65 per cent said they didn’t believe Halifax offered long-term career possibilities.


“We’re in a war for talent, and with Internet and increasing technology, that war is global,” she said.

There are ideas on how to engage young people – like install youth advisory committees in all levels of government – Halifax just needs to get creative and experiment, she said.

“In a city that sometimes gets caught on talking about doing things rather than actually acting on them, are we willing to step up?”

University students -- who inject $300 million into the HRM -- are an “economic jewel” of the local economy, said Kathryn Laurin with Mount Saint Vincent University.

“And during times of economic challenge, universities tend to be less vulnerable to the swings in the business cycles," Laurin said.

She then challenged the business leaders in the room to take another look at their job-wanted ads.

“Why are we always asking for three to five years experience for every job? What message does that signal to our graduates?”

Other speakers yesterday said the country, and the HRM, is in good shape to ride out the economic storm.

Tammy Holland with the Royal Bank said the HRM should emerge “relatively unscathed” and that Nova Scotia is positioned well compared to Ontario or Alberta.