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Young professionals benefit from small businesses

Young graduates and adults in the Okanagan are leaning towards entrepreneurship

Millennials are benefiting from starting small businesses, says a contractor for the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission.

Drew Vincent, of the Okanagan Young Professionals Collective, said he sees millennials starting their own businesses and working at smaller companies or start-ups and attributes it to the drive young professionals have to want to make a difference.

“Really, the biggest thread is feeling like they make a contribution. Gone are the days of ‘sit down, shut up’ for 20 years and then you’ll have a voice at the table,” he said.

Millennials don’t necessarily thrive when they work in large corporate offices, but when they work with a small company and see something come to life, they are encouraged, he said.

“It’s having the opportunity to have the input but also working hard to achieve that end result,” he said. “That theme that young people don’t work hard, I think it’s that they want to work smart.”

Black Press is hosting a career fair Sept. 14 at the Kelowna Curling Club from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Capital News spoke with UBCO and Okanagan College to determine what young graduates are choosing for their careers and where they want to live.

“I think a lot of our students are finding work in the Okanagan. Of course when the oil patch was in full swing there were a lot of people headed north and to Alberta, but quite a few of them live in the Okanagan,” said director of public affairs at Okanagan College Allan Coyle.

“Look at the construction industry (in the Okanagan) now. The trades are certainly booming here in the region,” he said, adding he can’t specifically tell how many Okanagan College students are staying in the valley, but there has been an increase in interest in the trades, tech and tourism sectors.

The college’s business program has also been increasing.

According to Sharon De Vries, director of alumni services at UBC , she hears more stories of students starting their own career paths as entrepreneurs.

She estimated about 25 per cent of UBCO students come from the Okanagan and finds around 60 per cent of students overall indicate they want to stay and work in the Okanagan after graduation.

“Those are rough numbers because they do change,” she said, adding young adults also tend to move around to build their careers.

With rental rates soaring in Vancouver, she said there’s more appeal to live in the Okanagan. However, primary living areas where graduates initially move to, continue to be in larger cities like Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.

“When you’re looking to build a career the larger cities have more opportunity,” she said. “You have to go where the work is as you build your career.”

The Black Press Extreme Education and Career Fair takes places on Thursday, Sept. 14, at the Kelowna Curling Club (551 Recreation Ave.), from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more info: facebook.com/BlackPressExtremeEducationandCareerFair