What is DEVlab?

DEVlab is a project led by Youthful Cities in partnership with Tamarack Institute to develop a dynamic, engaged, and vital young workforce in cities through a deep investigation into the skills youth need to succeed. This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s National Essential Skills Initiative program. We will use a community action research approach across eight Canadian cities: Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver, Regina, Moncton, Yellowknife, and Whitehorse.

Statistics from the Urban Work Index 2023

This youth-centered project will look at youth broadly, but also several focus communities including Indigenous and Black youth, international students, youth with mental health challenges, and other equity-seeking communities.

DEVlab Pillars


Dynamic — agile in its skills and experiences to take on all the new jobs that have not even been created yet and all the old ones that need to get done.


Engaged — an equitable, fully employable, and ultimately employed with an active voice on issues related to the future of work.


Vital — seen for its value with values being a full contributor to the new unfolding city economies.

We don’t yet know how two years of a global pandemic have impacted a whole generation and the life of our cities. However, current data suggest we may be facing a skills mismatch and subsequent youth unemployment, declining city real estate occupancy rates, decreasing ratio of working-age people to seniors, and higher levels of debt and housing insecurity for young people.

DEVlab looks at determining the skills that young people in Canada need in order to successfully secure jobs and to succeed in their careers. It also investigates the current ecosystems of work in cities within Canada. We gather data to investigate the best ways for youth workforces in cities to be dynamic, engaged, and vital; then this data could be turned into youth-led, community action.



the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the youth workforce development in cities of Canada.


an open-access dataset on youth workforce development and work ecosystems within cities.


the determinants for workforce prosperity and barriers to success in post-pandemic Canada.


inclusive, community-led pathways for knowledge sharing to improve young people’s ability to acquire skills and meaningful employment.


hyperlocal solutions to address city-specific obstacles for stable, secure, and dignified youth employment.

DEVlab collects data on how cities, organizations, and individuals have recalibrated their approaches to work following the COVID-19 pandemic. We work with diverse and underrepresented young people primarily across eight Canadian cities (Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver, Regina, Moncton, Yellowknife, and Whitehorse) to capture youth-centered insights on the challenges and aspirations for an inclusive future of work. For the duration of the project, we will be employing a few different methods in gathering our data including indicator creation (using data on youth wellbeing, skills development and more), surveys, interviews and dialogue, and solution summits, where youth will be gathering to address locally-identified youth employment challenges.


The Youthful Cities Urban Work Summit is a nationwide project that unites young leaders and innovators from all over Canada to address the challenges and opportunities related to the future of work for youth. The summit commenced with a national gathering in Vancouver, where delegates from different cities across Canada came together to establish connections, enhance skills, and create action plans.

Following the Vancouver summit, local summits took place in Calgary, Montreal, and Toronto, enabling youths to collaborate on tailored solutions for their cities. These gatherings empowered young participants to present their ideas and suggest strategies to enhance the work environment for their peers. Outstanding concepts received micro-grants, allowing the winners to turn their ideas into tangible projects.

In order to support the delegates’ initiatives, Youthful Cities offered a 6-week skill-up program, providing mentorship and guidance to assist in bringing their ideas to life. This comprehensive approach not only encouraged innovation but also equipped young individuals with essential skills and resources to instigate positive transformations in their communities.


Photo Gallery


Photo Gallery


Photo Gallery


At Youthful Cities, we’re on a mission to learn about the skills gap among youth, and we’re inviting potential partners to join us in this vital research endeavor. Together, we can explore and understand the barriers young people face in acquiring the skills they need. Reach out to us and see where we could potentially collaborate!

Post-secondary Institutions

You can help us shape our research directions and access useful data that will inform your training programs to be more aligned with the job market’s requirements.

Youth Organizations

In addition to access to useful data, you can nominate youth delegates to join the city-based summits and be part of discussions around future solutions.

Media Outlets

You can have access to inspiring stories from young people and have appealing content around future work trends.

Economic Development

Access useful insights to better understand the requirements for positive workforce development and to attract young employees.

Current Partners

Thank you to our partners that have made our Urban Work Summits a success!

Government of Canada logo
RBC Future Launch logo
Tamarack Institute logo
City Hive logo
Destination Vancouver logo
Bentall Centre logo
Modo logo
Ocean Wise logo
Simon Fraser University logo.
Vancouver Foundation logo
Calgary Economic Development logo
Edge Up logo
Learning City Collective logo
MRU Bissett School of Business logo
MRU Institute for Community Prosperity logo
TalenED YYC logo
Shelf Life Books logo
Ubuntu logo
Green Career Centre logo
City of Toronto logo
Laidlaw Foundation logo
TTC Logo
Wealthsimple logo
ACSionN Network of Canada logo
Cantine Toca Toca logo
Digital Moment logo
Conseil de l'innovation du Quebec logo
The Roundhouse Cafe logo
L'itineraire logo
Maison de l'innovation sociale logo
Young Diplomats of Canada logo
Parc-Ex Curry Collective
Heros de chez nous logo