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Canada’s International Students Not Meeting Labour Market Requirements  

By cvf, 05/14/2024


Canada has faced criticism for not aligning its international student intake with labour market requirements.

CBC News analysed figures obtained from the federal immigration department, which shows fields of study chosen by foreign students who got study permits from Ottawa to attend a Canadian college or university every year since 2018. 

At 428,208, business/commerce-related programs accounted for 27 per cent of all study permit allocations between 2018 to 2023, which outweighs any other field.

Only six per cent of all permits were allocated to those pursuing health sciences, medicine, or biological and biomedical sciences programs.  

Meanwhile, trade and vocational programs accounted for just 1.25 per cent of total allocations, at 36,208 study permits.  


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The data demonstrates that Canadian governments and universities have not focused recruitment efforts towards filling the country’s critical labour market requirements. Experts blame this on a lack of oversight. 

According to Rupa Banerjee, associate professor at Toronto Metropolitan University, and chair holder at the Canada Research Chair in the economic inclusion of immigrants, the data shows too many foreign students who were lured to Canada for post-secondary programs with little prospects of a good job in an in-demand field.  

“Instead of really trying to bring in the best and the brightest to fill the labour market gaps that need to be filled, what we’re doing is bringing in low skill, low wage, expendable and exploitable temporary foreign workers in the form of students,” Banerjee said.   

“Students are graduating from programs that are not particularly valuable in the labour market, that are not allowing them to get the jobs that will then allow them to transition and become productive Canadian permanent residents.” 

RBC Wealth Management published a report in March on aligning Canada’s immigration with the future economy.  

Benjamin Richardson and Cynthia Leach said that the mismatch in immigrants’ skills and the labour market’s long-term needs, along with pressure on the country’s infrastructure capacity, is leading to negative economic outcomes.  

“The skill sets that many immigrants bring to Canada and the study fields of international students do not match well with the anticipated longer-term structural needs of the economy,” read the report. 

“This impairs the prospects for newcomers and, more broadly, the economy.” 

The number of study permits for business programs increased fivefold between 2018 and 2023, with no other field witnessing such a significant increase. On average, non-business fields had 1.7 times increase over the same time period, as per CBC data.


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“The federal government needs to update immigration policies to focus more strategically on immigrant outcomes and the long-term structural needs of the labour market, while keeping in mind the infrastructure capacity to accommodate newcomers.” 

“Addressing this will be key to maintaining economic prosperity over the long run, and Canada’s high quality of life.” 

Canada Immigration Minister Marc Miller told CBC News that he will be raising the issue of matching Canada’s intake of immigrants to labour market needs when he meets provincial and territorial immigration ministers on Friday.  

This follows the announcement made earlier this year that Canada is looking to stabilize growth and decrease the number of new study permits issued to around 360,000 for this year, which is a significant fall from the 683,235 study permits issued in 2023. 

IRCC will consider only 606,250 study permit applications in 2024.   

This is the result of what Miller called a fall in integrity of the international student system, with Some institutions having significantly increased their intakes to drive revenues, and a greater number of students arriving in Canada without the proper supports they need to succeed. 

The post Canada’s International Students Not Meeting Labour Market Requirements   appeared first on Canada Immigration and Visa Information. Canadian Immigration Services and Free Online Evaluation..

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