Lifestyle is one of the major reasons students from Okanagan College and the University B.C. want to return to the valley a few years after graduating. Other factors include jobs and arts and culture.

Lifestyle is one of the major reasons students from Okanagan College and the University B.C. want to return to the valley a few years after graduating. Other factors include jobs and arts and culture.

Students want to remain in valley

A survey is shedding some light on the life choices of regional students and alumni.

A survey conducted by the  Okanagan Young Professionals (OYP) Collective is shedding some light on the life choices of regional students and alumni.

A program of the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, OYP conducted the survey among students and alumni from Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan.

It was aimed at quantifying whether or not students and alumni are leaving the Okanagan, why they are leaving and what it would take to get them to come back. The survey also asked respondents about entrepreneurism and housing costs.

The student and alumni survey followed exploratory methodology and research design yielding a total of 341 respondents. With a student/alumni total population of 23,000, the methodology achieved a confidence level of 95 per cent and a confidence interval of seven.

More than 63 per cent of students probably to definitely plan on staying in the Okanagan and 60 per cent of both students and alumni expressed interest in returning the Okanagan after a few years, citing jobs, quality of life and arts, culture and entertainment options as their top priorities.

Interestingly, these priorities out-ranked cost of living and cost of housing.

Other survey highlights include:

n 58 per cent of alumni have remained in the Okanagan after graduation.

n 63.4 per cent of alumni cited lack of jobs as a reason for leaving.

n Of the 61 per cent of alumni thinking of returning, 43 per cent of those indicated their decision was prompted by getting married or starting a family.

n 20 per cent of students plan to leave due to a lack of social, arts and entertainment options.

n 12.8 per cent of students and 7.3 per cent of alumni cited an outdated, conservative local government mentality as a reason for leaving.

n 57 per cent of alumni and 49 per cent of students said they would consider buying or starting a business.

“It’s so exciting to finally have numbers on the subject of grad retention and alumni attraction,” said Donnie Ungaro, young professionals culture officer, with the economic development commission.

“For so long it was only assumptions and anecdotes. We now know how many plan on leaving but more importantly what their priorities are in returning to the Okanagan. From this we can focus our programming and efforts based on these priorities and start attracting young professionals back to the Okanagan.”

A full copy of the report, more information on the OYP Collective and other COEDC programs can be found at www.oypcollective.com.