A new study shows Toronto’s Gen Y'ers and employers think the city falls short in comparison to other world and Canadian cities on issues like immigration, innovation and employment, even though most think it’s still a good place to live.
The Toronto Next report, conducted by Leger Marketing and commissioned by George Brown College, surveyed Gen Y'ers aged 18-35 and hiring managers of companies with at least five employees and found that while the city scores high marks for its multiculturalism, it drops the ball in areas like affordability, innovation and integrating immigrants into the workforce.
Only 18 per cent of Gen Y'ers and 25 per cent of employers surveyed felt Toronto was an affordable city to live and do business in, while only 28 per cent of Gen Y'ers and 35 per cent of employers felt the city was an environmentally friendly place compared to other Canadian cities. Less than half of all respondents felt the city is a thriving place for science and technology with roughly the same number feeling Toronto doesn’t provide strong employment opportunities to immigrants.
On comparisons to world cities, Gen Y'ers and employers held very similar views, with generally one-third or less of each group feeling Toronto is better than other world cities at being environmentally friendly, fostering innovation ensuring a highly skilled workforce.
Eighty-two per cent of employers felt the city needs to better integrate immigrants to fill gaps and shortages in Toronto’s work force, compared to 68 per cent of Gen Y'ers on the same issue.
George Brown College president Anne Sado says the results show Torontonians want to see more diversity in their workforce, a good thing since immigration is still such a key component of Toronto’s growing economy.
“A key concern that (respondents) noted is that we’re not doing as good a job as we need to do in integrating immigrants into the workforce. We’re going to need to rely on that immigrant population to advance our economy and have a positive and economically healthy city in the future,” Sado said.
There is good news, however: While generally less than 10 per cent of respondents said they felt Toronto deals very successfully with any single issue such as unemployment, shortage of skilled labour and post-secondary training for new jobs, the vast majority of Gen Y'ers (86 per cent) and employers (73 per cent) said they believe Toronto is overall a good place to live and do business respectively. In addition, 54 per cent of Gen Y'ers feel Toronto is a safer place to live than other world cities, and another 47 per cent felt it is better for raising a family.
As for respondents’ biggest gripes about the city, Gen Y'ers rated poor or underfunded public transit and traffic congestion as Toronto’s worst and third-worst qualities (rated fifth- and second-worst among employers) while both employers and Gen Y'ers rated Toronto’s cost of living and taxes as first- and second-worst respectively.
Sado says the study speaks loudly that Torontonians are thinking critically about their city.
“I really fundamentally believe there’s a lot of positives about Toronto but what the study shows us is we can do a lot better,” Sado said.