Toronto residents pessimistic about city's future

Generation Y & employers give city low marks on employment for immigrants, economic potential, science and innovation and fixing skills shortage

TORONTO, May 6 /CNW/ - Toronto employers, their youngest workers and post-secondary students believe the city is behind on a series of critical social and economic issues compared with other international and Canadian cities, and are pessimistic the city will be any better in 10 years.

According to an in-depth research report released today by George Brown College and conducted by Leger Marketing, approximately half of the city's employers and Generation Y residents (those aged 18 - 35) believe the city will have changed very little or be a worse place to live 10 years from now. The pessimistic future outlook is attributed to the city's inability to integrate new immigrants into society, overpopulation, crumbling infrastructure, faltering innovation and the high cost of living.

While the research reveals most Torontonians see the city's cultural diversity as one of its strongest assets, nearly half of respondents (43 per cent) believe the city has failed to adequately integrate new immigrants into society and 52 per cent believe the city has fared equally poorly in leveraging immigrants to fill existing and future skill shortages.

"It is critical for Toronto to improve as a city and address the core socioeconomic indicators that will be instrumental to its future competitiveness," said George Brown College President Anne Sado. "Unless we raise the bar significantly with respect to our level of research and innovation, the integration of newcomers, narrowing the gap in skills and modernizing our infrastructure, it won't be long before we lose our domestic and international stature."

Only one in five respondents believes Toronto provides much more opportunity to new Canadians than other international cities. The issue is one that 81 per cent of employers believe is important to address.

Asked what are the best things about the city, Gen Ys cited the breadth of entertainment options, while employers pointed to the city's high consumer population and position as the country's business centre.

One fifth of respondents are not likely to still live in the city 10 years from now, and of those that will, only one in five will do so because he or she likes or loves the city.

The study shows most Torontonians see their city as lacking in comparison to other international cities in employment opportunities for new Canadians, economic growth potential, the environment, arts and culture, as well as science and innovation.

"There will need to be much more emphasis on integrating immigrants, but also in preparing workers for the realities of a knowledge-based economy that will have a heavy focus on innovation and productivity," said Don Drummond, senior vice president and chief economist for TD Bank and one of several prominent Torontonians whose opinion was solicited in reaction to the study. "Toronto will have to shape up and address its shortcomings if it's going to become a world-class city of the future."

Only 30 per cent believe Toronto's science and technology sectors are better than those of other international cities and only one in three sees the city's workforce as skilled, demonstrating a general lack of confidence in its economic competitiveness.

"As we enter the fall mayoralty and city council election, I can't emphasize enough the need to judge candidates on their willingness to genuinely collaborate with constituents, business, other levels of government and non-governmental agencies as that will be the key catalyst to fast change and an escape from the status quo," said Sado.

The survey polled a random sample of 500 Toronto residents between the ages of 18 and 35, and 300 of the city's employers between Jan. 6 and 24, 2010. The study has a margin of error +/- 4.4 per cent.

About George Brown College

With nine out of 10 graduates hired within six months of graduation, Toronto's George Brown College has established a reputation for equipping students with the skills, industry experience and credentials to pursue the careers of their choice. From its two main campuses located across the downtown core, George Brown offers nearly 160 programs across a wide variety of professions to a student body of 60,000 (including those enrolled in full-time, part-time and continuing education programs). Students can earn diplomas, post-graduate certificates, industry accreditations, apprenticeships and four-year bachelor degrees.

SOURCE George Brown College

For further information: For further information: or to book an interview, please contact: Shannon Morton, Linda Heredia, APEX Public Relations, (416) 924-4442 ext. 253, ext. 240, smorton@apexpr.com, lheredia@apexpr.com


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