Attracting International Students

Attracting International Students Isn’t Enough, We Must Also Let Them Work

Attracting International Students Isn’t Enough, We Must Also Let Them Work

I have talked with and surveyed a lot of employers in recent years about their willingness to hire immigrants. 

When I ask them “would you hire an immigrant that is in Canada and has a work permit?” almost all say “absolutely.” When I ask them if they would go through the process of international recruitment, do all the paperwork, pay the fees, help the new hires move to Canada, help get them set up, and wait 6-18 months, the vast majority, particularly small firms, say no.

This is why international student attraction must be a key part of our workforce development strategy. International students with a post-graduate work permit are here are ready to work. 

Of course, international students are not the only source of talent. Many international students already have post-secondary education (PSE) and, if recruiting them was much easier, they might not need to study here in the first place.

But for many, even with existing PSE, it’s not a bad idea to study here: they get to know the country and community, they get to work on their language skills, and many get to work while in school.

The key, however, is attracting international students that have a reasonable chance of finding a job in the province after they graduate. As has been pointed out by several columnists recently, there are something like 3-4 times as many international PSE graduates each year across Canada as the number of post-graduate work permits issued. 

Instead of trying to fit international students into existing PSE courses, we may even have to develop new courses to meet a specific workforce gap. 

As of December 31, 2021, there were 2,450 International Mobility Program (IMP) work permit holders under post-graduate employment in New Brunswick. That is up by 86 percent since 2019. Still, relative to the national total, we have only about half as many as we should.

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