Vancouver Brain Drain

Amr Shokry of Ashton College talks about how to convert savvy Vancouverites to Island Life

Amr Shokry

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The current trend terrifying Human Resources professionals on the mainland goes something like this: enthusiastic young student finishes their degree and moves to Vancouver looking for their first grown up job.

They land a job only to leave two years later and move to Nanaimo where they take up a similar job because they can’t afford to live in Vancouver.

And the numbers don’t lie — the cost of living in Vancouver is astronomical. In fact, the city was just granted the infamous honour of being the second most expensive city to live in the world. Yes, you read that correctly.

Everyone likes to play the blame game. If it’s not foreign investors buying up real estate and letting perfectly good condos sit empty, then the government is at fault. Or, if you don’t want to blame the government, you can blame the minimum wage that, at $10.25, just isn’t livable.

You can almost picture the frustrated torrent of words: “I can’t afford anything here! It’s like I have to choose between paying my rent and eating at Italian Kitchen.” Except that for the 20- to 35-year-old crowd, it isn’t Italian Kitchen they’re dining at, but Subway.

For HR professionals like Amr Shokry, who instructs the Human Resources Diploma program at Ashton College, the trick in recruiting savvy Vancouverites and converting them to the pleasures of Island Life is to offer them something they can’t get anywhere else.

“Speaking from experience, convincing people to relocate for work is simply a matter of showing them that where they’re going is better than where they are. I love Nanaimo, it’s a beautiful city and it’s growing all the time.”

With housing market prices continuing to skyrocket and rental accommodations not looking affordable for anyone making less than six figures, many young Vancouverites are making the budget-conscious decision (well, we all have to be responsible eventually…) to move to Nanaimo.

And why not? Nanaimo is a beautiful city and it’s only a 50km ferry ride away on everyone’s favourite public transportation Crown corporation, BC Ferries.

In all seriousness, though, let’s compare and contrast. Average rent in Nanaimo: $800 for a 1,000-square-foot single-bedroom apartment.

Average rent in Vancouver: $1,500 for a 500-square-foot single-bedroom apartment shared with four friends via living room partitions. Utilities not included and no pets allowed.

And with the cost of a detached housing in Nanaimo at a third the cost of similar homes in Vancouver, the current trend according to the CBC is for Vancouverites to purchase homes in Nanaimo and start families.

“Calling Nanaimo your home is becoming a better option all the time,” said Shokry.

Ashton College offers a diploma program in Human Resources Management in both online and in-class formats. Program content is designed to prepare students for the National Knowledge Exam (NKE) leading to the CHRP designation.

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