Welcome to the inaugural Urban Work Index, the first of its kind to look specifically at urban work in Canada. The Index, which was funded by RBC Future Launch, ranks 21 Canadian cities based on 48 urban work indicators, and found Edmonton to be the top-ranked city in the country. Edmonton scored 713.86 points out of a possible 1,310 available points. As Canada’s population ages, we need to make sure our cities are vibrant places for youth to work. Using this new Index as inspiration, we have a challenge for Canada and Canadian cities: make full youth employment (youth unemployment below 6%) a goal by 2024. Clearly, we can, and we need to do more. We need to spark a national dialogue on the future of urban work and youth’s critical role in it. With 87% of Canadian youth aged 15-29 living in cities, the YouthfulCities Urban Work Index creates a way for youth to explore the best cities for them to work. It uses an expansive, youth-driven definition for work that includes four thematic areas: Education (affordability, access, work-integrated learning experiences), Entrepreneurship (spirit, spaces, programming), Affordability (housing, utilities, transportation, food/clothing, leisure, health) and Employment (basic, career-oriented, city economic profile, programs).
Where is the best place for urban work in Canada? We set out to answer this question with our Urban Work Index, ranking 21 cities across Canada on various attributes to create a holistic picture of work. Each city was ranked on a total of 1310 possible points. The overall ranking is designed to expand the discussion on youth work from simply unemployment statistics to an intersectional analysis that reflects youth’s priorities when navigating work in their cities. The overall ranking shows each city’s complete score, across the themes of work relevant to youth; affordability and education, employment, entrepreneurship. In the overall ranking, Edmonton, Montreal and Ottawa make up the top three. Geographically across Canada, every region has a city in the top 10 – a city that excels across our youthful measures of urban work. Interestingly, Toronto and Vancouver end up in the middle of the pack. Their finish here reflects a story that may be different from assumptions about where the best places in Canada are to work. Importantly, even the cities at the top of the list do not come close to the total possible points, showing that no city is perfect for youth looking for work in urban centres. As we prepare for the future of work and its potential changes, cities play an important role in making decisions that will impact young people’s evaluations about where they work.