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.


When? January 29-February 1st, 2024

Where? SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue (580 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1L6)

What? A three-day summit bringing together fifty young leaders to delve into the future of urban work. The summit’s objectives include forging a network of Canadian youth leaders, facilitating skill development, crafting action plans for Canadian cities, providing web-based resources for cities and citizens, and developing future scenarios to monitor urban development trends.

Want a spot in the summit? Apply here to get a chance to attend and have your flight and accommodation covered!


Explore some of Youthful Cities’ current data-based tools. Check back soon for more resources coming out of the DEVlab project.

Screenshot of the Best Work City app.

Best Work City Quiz


Curious about which city in Canada would be the best city for you to live, work, and play? Try out Best Work City Quiz, that utilizes data we gathered for our Urban Work Index 2023.

Screenshot of THE GRID.



THE GRID is Youthful Cities’ open data portal. Explore the complete dataset from the Urban Work Index 2023 and more.


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.

Get Involved

We are asking you to participate in our online What’s Up with Work Lately Survey. This survey aims to better understand how young people view their work-life dynamics, their employability, the resources provided by their cities, and the skills needed to succeed in the current and future job markets. Your answers will help inform research around public policies for youth work and living practices in your Canadian city.