Since 2010, the Okanagan Young Professionals Collective has been a flagship program of the COEDC and a nationally recognized best practice in the attraction and retention of young professionals. Now in its ninth year, we are excited to announce a revitalized 2019 program and introduce three new faces representing the OYP in our community.

But first, let’s talk about how we got here.

The concept of the OYP Collective was formed in 2010, when the Okanagan was known as a retirement destination and there was a common perception that there wasn’t much happening for young professionals in the region. What started as a collective events calendar to highlight various happenings for young people in the region has evolved over the years to become a conduit for various young professional groups, connecting countless students, young professionals and newcomers to career, social and volunteer opportunities in the region.

Over the past eight years, the OYP Collective has brought people together in big and small ways – from epic parties like the Sugarplum Ball in partnership with Kelowna Pride to monthly drop-in coffee socials and too many one on one coffee meetings to count.

The Central Okanagan has changed since the OYP Collective formed in 2010. No longer a sleepy place of peaches and beaches, we are outpacing the province in growth of 30-34 year olds by 50% and more than doubling the national growth rate.

Photo Courtesy of City of Kelowna

At the same time, local businesses across sectors are growing and creating exciting new career opportunities in the Okanagan. In a region historically known for very small businesses, the number of businesses with 20-49 employees has increased by 8% since 2014 - a rate more than double the provincial average. Across Canada, the BDC reports that 39% of businesses are struggling to find skilled workers to meet their current needs. Here in the Central Okanagan, 41% of businesses are telling us they can’t grow if they can’t find the right people.


Bananatag, Photo courtesy of Accelerate Okanagan

Over the next ten years, the Canadian labour market is expected to grow by 0.2% when accounting for retirements and new workers entering the Canadian workforce. The coming labour shortage is well-documented and global in nature (Manpower Group, BC Chamber of Commerce, Hays Global Skills to name a few).

While the Central Okanagan is benefiting from increasing numbers of young professionals, to maintain a sustainable economy, we need to keep up the momentum and continue to foster a culture that not only attracts young professionals, but keeps them here long term.

Between the OYP Collective groups like #kelownaculture, Accelerate Okanagan, Urban Rec and more, there is something happening every day of the week for young professionals. There are also innovative local companies and people creating global impact right here in the Okanagan. It’s all here now. The problem is, many people locally, on campus and in other parts of Canada and the world don’t know about it. In 2019, the OYP will introduce new ways to tell the Okanagan story and connect students and young professionals to the action.

With this in mind, the COEDC is proud to introduce the OYP Collective’s 2019 lineup:

Community Cultivator, Tory Braun.

The OYP Collective’s Community Cultivator fosters a culture for young professionals in the region. What does that mean? We’re glad you asked. The Community Cultivator keeps up to date on various groups and happenings for young professionals, identifying opportunities to bring people together, share ideas and provide connections to social, volunteer and career opportunities in the region.

With a background in communications, Community Cultivator Tory Braun will also be telling the Okanagan story, highlighting people, groups and companies that make the Okanagan a great place for young professionals.

Tory is supported by the Members of Influence, an advisory body representing a cross section of industry and cultural perspectives important to young professionals.

If you are new to town, looking to make new social, volunteer or professional connections, have a great Okanagan success story to tell or want to find out when the next coffee social is, contact Tory at oyp@investkelowna.com, visit oypcollective.com to sign up for the newsletter or follow @oypcollective on social media.

Student Liaison, Yu Teshima

Much of the region’s growth is driven by our post-secondary institutions and the OYP Collective has always maintained a strong connection with Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan.

In 2019, we are building on our past success and deepening our connections to students by increasing OYP Collective representation on campus.

The OYP Collective’s first Student Liaison, Yu Teshima, is a 3rd year international student from Japan studying management at UBCO. She represents the OYP on campus at both UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College and works to find opportunities to connect students and the business community. You can find her at campus events or contact her at student@investkelowna.com.


Connector Program, Myrna Stark Leader

Started as a pilot in 2017, the Connector program matches students, recent graduates and newcomers of all ages to well-networked volunteer Connectors.

Connectees participate in a series of informational coffee meetings that accelerated network building and community integration.

It’s all about who you know and Myrna makes sure newcomers to our community know the right people. Contact Myrna at connector@investkelowna.com or visit investkelowna.com/connector to find out more.

We look forward to connecting in 2019!

OYP is brought to you in partnership with: