Positive migration gains show 'word is getting out about the area'

Monday, August 19, 2019

The Windsor Star/Dave Waddell




For the first time in years, the Windsor area is now drawing more people than it loses in every single age category.

A Workforce WindsorEssex project aimed at helping the area attract and retain talent has found the region began to turn the corner in 2016.

“We should be encouraged,” said Julian Villafuerte, project co-ordinator for Workforce. “These are promising upward trends.

“We should be proactive on building upon our competitive advantages of affordability, job opportunities and a quality of life that are attracting people now.”

The first portion of the multi-part project will be published Tuesday (www.workforcewindsoressex.com).

The statistics used in the report come from the 2011 and 2016 Censuses and from taxpayer filings for 2017-18.

“2016 was the turning point,” Villafuerte said. “The two main drivers of positive migration are affordability and economic opportunities. We’ve had that since 2016.

“The word is getting out about the area.”

Villafuerte said it’s particularly positive for the region that in  2015-16 Windsor began to attract more 18-to-44-year-olds than it lost.

That year the Windsor area was a plus-190 in the 18-24 age group, plus-283 among 25-44-year-olds and plus-382 among those 65-plus.

In 2016-17, the region was plus-419 among 18-to-24s, plus-510 among 25-to-44s and plus-165 among seniors.

Overall, there were 3,103 more people who migrated to the area in 2016-17 than left and 2,299 more in 2015-16.

The low point for the community in net migration came in 2012-13 when the area was minus-724 for those 18-to-44 and a minus-53 overall.

Villafuerte said the influx of younger people bodes well for sustaining the workforce. Just as importantly, those 45-plus moving to the area bring with them a wealth of experience, expertise and economic power.

“Younger people are vital, they ensure the future of your workforce,” Villafuerte said.

From 2011-2016 the source of much of the newcomers participating in the labour force in descending order were: Chatham-Kent, Toronto, Middlesex, Peel and Waterloo.

“We’re seeing a lot of regional gains from more rural areas,” Villafuerte said. “We’ll analyze that more in the future.

“We’re also seeing a lot from Peel, York and Durham, which may speak to our affordability.”

The local economy is diversifying beyond just manufacturing.

The most popular destinations for those choosing to leave the area in descending order are: Toronto, Middlesex, Chatham-Kent, Peel and Waterloo.

The study has also revealed that from 2011-16, the area was experiencing a brain drain when it came to people holding university degrees.

Villafuerte said he expects to see that university retention ratio improve based on the trends of since 2016.

The region is already retaining more people with college diplomas and skilled trades credentials than it was losing.

“That gap will be closing with us retaining more younger people,” Villafuerte said.

“Retaining people with college diplomas and skilled trades credentials is particularly important in this area with a shortage of skilled workers needed for manufacturing.”

The next steps in the project, which lead to a final report and recommendations in January, is a survey currently being conducted on who and why people have migrated here.

Once that data is collected, focus groups will be formed to drill down further on the demographics to see what newcomers desire in the region.

There will also be digital mapping tools created to promote what’s already in the area and identify specific talent located elsewhere in Canada, the U.S. and United Kingdom.

“The whole project is designed to help area business, industry and the community be proactive in drawing and retaining the type of people we need,” said Justin Falconer, senior director for Workforce WindsorEssex.

“It’ll help us understand how we land them and what they care about.”