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Smaller communities appeal to job seekers

Monday, November 9, 2020 - 13:59

Read the original article here on Toronto Sun’s website.

Change in lifestyle a motivating factor

When Jasper Davis and his wife first purchased their home in Oshawa after living in Toronto, they didn’t mind their commute to work in the city.

But after becoming parents, spending nearly three hours a day getting to and from work began to take its toll and each began looking in earnest for jobs close to home.

“I didn’t want to settle for anything. I was at a small start-up tech company in Toronto and wanted to be in a place that had a similar vibe,” says the design specialist.

This past spring, he landed a job at the Spark Centre, a business incubator for innovation and technology companies that’s located in downtown Oshawa, the largest municipality in Durham Region.

“It has changed my life…It’s not like Toronto, where you’re a small fish in a big pond. I like the sense of community,” says Davis, who can now walk to work in just 10 minutes. He landed the job with the help of Durham Recruiting, a recruiting firm that estimates the average commuter from Oshawa to downtown Toronto will spend 690 hours – the equivalent of three working months – a year.

Realtors have noticed growing interest in suburban or rural communities outside the City of Toronto in recent years, thanks in large part to what some refer to as an ‘affordability crisis’ in urban centres.

The COVID-19 pandemic heightened that trend, with many people moving because they feel more comfortable in a suburban or rural community and/or want more space while working and learning from home.

But for many people, communities outside Toronto are attractive not just because housing is relatively affordable but because they also offer competitive work opportunities.

The top three spots in Monster’s list of top 10 cities for job searches outside the City of Toronto between July 1 and the end of August were Belleville, Oshawa and London.

“Our experience tells us that often the motivating factor for looking to work in Belleville is a desire for a change in lifestyle – moving to a smaller, safer, more affordable community with more lifestyle and family amenities than can be found in large urban centres,” says Karen Poste, manager of economic and strategic initiatives.

Most business sectors are represented in Belleville, with manufacturing and logistics the most influential. Tradespeople, engineers, labourers and people with experience in food processing and manufacturing are in demand, as are financial, communications, customer service, managerial and computer professionals.

Real estate in the City of Belleville is divided into two wards. The average home in Belleville Ward will fetch $388,000, while the average home in Thurlow Ward costs nearly $440,000, according to the most recent figures posted by the Quinte & District Association of Realtors.

According to commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE, tech talent in Oshawa grew by more than 50 per cent from 2013 to 2018, making it one of the fastest growing small cities for tech talent in Canada.

“We welcome the increased interest in areas such as network administration, DevOps engineering and software development,” says Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter.

The city’s assets include Durham College’s AI/Hub and Centre for Cybersecurity Innovation, Ontario Tech University and the ACE Climatic Wind Tunnel. GM Canada’s new McLaughlin Advanced Technology Track, currently under construction, will serve as a test bed for advanced vehicle software and autonomous technologies.

Meanwhile, a millennial migration study carried out by Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Research and Land Development found Durham Region to be one of the top three millennial migration destinations in the country. “As millennials begin to raise families, we’ve noticed a premium being placed on real estate that offers additional space and affordability,” Carter says.

“In that respect, Oshawa’s proximity to the Greater Toronto Area is an excellent value proposition. Recent trends are indicating that millennials are considering alternatives away from big cities for locations with better value.”

The average house price in Oshawa in August was $613,000, according to the Durham Region Association of Realtors.  Rounding out Monster’s top three is the City of London, home to primary economic sectors that include agri-food, advanced manufacturing, health and professional services. Its digital media and technology sector has notable strengths in information communication technology, digital media, software as a service, game development, eCommerce and financial technology.

More than 350 companies currently employ more than 9,000 people in the digital media and technology sector, reports Debra Mountenay, executive director of the Workforce Planning and Development Board for the London economic region. The average home price in the City of London was $527,414 in September, according to the London and St. Thomas Association of Realtors.

TOP 10 COMMUNITIES

Realtors have noticed growing interest in communities outside the City of Toronto and Monster, billed as a global leader in connecting the right people to the right jobs, has too. According to its research, job searches between July 1 and the end of August were highest in these 10 cities:

1. Belleville
2. Oshawa
3. London
4. Thornhill
5. Mississauga
6. Kitchener
7. Bradford
8. North York
9. Newmarket
10. Scarborough

Monster reports an increase in the volume of searches for the following roles in September compared to August: network administrator, conventional transit operator, barista, DevOps engineer, software developer analyst and package handler.

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