Services: Regional Community & Economic Development (CED): Youth Engagement Strategy

Brain drain caused by young people leaving their hometown is one of the most often-cited challenges facing remote rural economies. It results in rapid aging of the region’s workforce that creates a major challenge to economic turnaround for such communities.

Over the past 10 years, ViTAL Economy (VE) initiatives have included interviews with thousands of young people aged 16 to 24 in rural communities across Australia, Canada and the United States. In this process, we’ve learned that the majority of these youth would like to build a career and raise a family in the community where they were raised. However, most believe they don’t have that choice, citing three main issues:

  • First, their parents or school counselors tell them that there are no high-wage jobs in their community.
  • Second, in school they’re connected by networks to the world. However, outside of school, they see adults making decisions as if boundaries still made a difference. This adult behavior reduces their community’s future viability.
  • Third, they see adults, who tend to under-value what makes their community unique, take actions that destroy their community’s quality of life rather than preserving its unique environment.

Often, when interviewed, these same young people have interesting and positive ideas about how they might preserve and grow the regional economy to which they would like to return.

VE recognized that the key to reversing youth brain drain was re-engaging young people in the affected economic region. As a result, we have integrated a youth engagement strategy component into our VE Journey. Each client community has the opportunity to more directly engage young people through this process, allowing them to provide input, define solutions and collaboratively lead change efforts.

Every community finds unique ways to engage young people in its VE Journey. We invite you to contact us to discuss how you can leverage the brain power and energy of one of the most valuable assets of your economic region – your future workforce.

Regional Community & Economic Development Services


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