Know risk, know change


   Over the course of November and December 2017, we conducted a set of interviews with 20 young people in Nova Scotia. These individuals comprise a range of backgrounds, and our discussions were comparably diverse. Taken with our survey, the interviews provide insight into the perspective of young people in this province and highlight what would make them stay or leave.

   Throughout the interviews there was a general sense that Nova Scotians are risk averse and hesitant to embrace new trends and ideas. This attitude was seen as an impediment to the emergence of an innovative and forward thinking culture — the type of thing that might attract and retain young people.

People here are generally very risk averse. They just want to stay with the status quo. But, why wouldn’t you want to innovate and be better? That’s a big problem in Nova Scotia.
I think it’s hard because there is this perspective that says ‘this is the way we are’. People are afraid of change, and I don’t know if that is what holds us back.

   This was also a theme present in our survey. We asked young people to describe the difference between ideal and non-ideal societies, and the central theme was attitude toward change. Ideal societies were described as innovative, forward thinking, and open to change, while non-ideal societies were described as resistant, fearful, and stuck in the past. 

   How does this relate to the central question of this initiative? Put differently, is there a relationship between how young people view innovation and their willingness to leave the province?

   In order to determine this, we asked them to describe innovation in Nova Scotia compared to other provinces. We then compared this response to whether or not they would consider leaving the province in pursuit of a job. Of note, the less innovative a young person describes Nova Scotia, the more likely they are to indicate a willingness to leave the province in pursuit of work.

   Can we shift our mindset, given this information? Is it possible to look at risk taking not as an ill-advised danger, but rather a prerequisite for innovation? And if we can do that — what else might change?