Canada’s international scholar push ‘mismatched’ job market, information exhibits

Canada’s recruitment of worldwide college students has tilted strongly towards filling spots in enterprise applications, whereas doing little to satisfy the demand for staff in well being care and the expert trades, in line with a CBC Information evaluation of federal information.

CBC obtained figures from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) displaying the fields of schooling chosen by international college students who acquired research permits from Ottawa to attend school or college in every year since 2018. 

Specialists say the figures display that neither federal nor provincial governments — nor Canadian schools and universities themselves — targeted worldwide scholar recruitment squarely on filling the nation’s most urgent labour wants.

“What we’re seeing with this information is that oversight was actually missing,” stated Rupa Banerjee, an affiliate professor at Toronto Metropolitan College who holds the Canada Analysis Chair within the financial inclusion of immigrants. 

The figures, which haven’t beforehand been made public, present that business-related applications accounted for 27 per cent of all research permits authorized from 2018 to 2023, greater than some other discipline. 

Over that very same time interval, simply six per cent of all permits went to international college students for well being sciences, drugs or organic and biomedical sciences applications, whereas trades and vocational coaching applications accounted for 1.25 per cent. 

Banerjee says the info exhibits far too many international college students have been lured to Canada for post-secondary applications with little prospect of a superb job in an in-demand discipline. 

“As an alternative of actually making an attempt to usher in the perfect and the brightest to fill the labour market gaps that must be crammed, what we’re doing is bringing in low ability, low wage, expendable and exploitable non permanent international staff within the type of college students,” Banerjee stated in an interview.  

Recruitment not aligned with demand for expert staff

She says the figures level to a failure by each federal and provincial governments to make sure that worldwide scholar recruitment was consistent with Canada’s want for expert staff. 

“College students are graduating from applications that aren’t significantly worthwhile within the labour market, that aren’t permitting them to get the roles that can then enable them to transition and turn out to be productive Canadian everlasting residents,” Banerjee stated. 

The industries with the very best job emptiness charges and the biggest absolute numbers of job vacancies have been usually constant since 2018, each earlier than and after the COVID-19 pandemic started: building, well being care and lodging and meals companies, in line with Statistics Canada information.

But from 2018 to 2023, the expansion within the variety of worldwide college students coming to Canada for enterprise applications far outpaced the expansion in some other post-secondary discipline. 

The variety of research permits granted for applications in enterprise administration, advertising and marketing and associated help companies elevated fivefold between 2018 and 2023. No different discipline of research noticed wherever close to that fast of a rise. 

The variety of permits granted to non-business fields elevated on common 1.7 instances over the identical time interval, in line with the info. The fields of well being sciences (2.6 instances) and computing/IT (2.4 instances) noticed the next-largest will increase.         

Minister to lift problem Friday 

Marc Miller, the federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, advised CBC Information that he’ll be elevating the difficulty of higher matching Canada’s consumption of newcomers to labour market wants when he meets provincial and territorial ministers chargeable for immigration on Friday. 

“There’s a accountability of provinces on this … to be sure that the applications that [colleges and universities] are providing to worldwide college students are those that match the job market,” Miller stated Tuesday on Parliament Hill.  

International college students pay considerably larger tuition charges than Canadians and have poured billions of {dollars} into the nation’s post-secondary establishments. CBC Information revealed earlier this yr that the largest drivers of Canada’s sharp enhance in worldwide college students have been public schools, largely in Ontario. 

On the time, officers from a number of schools with giant international scholar enrolment advised CBC Information that they ramped up their worldwide recruitment — on the urging of each federal and provincial governments — to fill the nation’s want for expert staff.

Rupa Banerjee is an affiliate professor at Toronto Metropolitan College whose analysis focuses on the financial inclusion of immigrants. (Mike Crawley/CBC)

“Worldwide college students are wanted to fill employment gaps,” stated an announcement from Conestoga Faculty in Kitchener, Ont., which topped the nationwide listing for worldwide research permits in 4 of the previous 5 years. “Our development over the previous couple of years has been tied to our mission: to satisfy workforce calls for within the communities we serve.” 

Worldwide college students made up 70 per cent of the enrolment in Conestoga’s enterprise applications in 2021-22, in line with Statistics Canada

An official from Cambrian Faculty in Sudbury, Ont., which had a virtually fivefold enhance in its worldwide scholar consumption between 2018 and 2023, stated its recruitment “mirrors and aligns with the federal authorities’s personal efforts to extend annual ranges of immigration, together with college students, with a purpose to meet the demand for expert staff now and sooner or later.” 

The brand new information displaying what number of international college students got here to Canada to check enterprise elevate questions on why it occurred.  

Ottawa was warned about mismatch

The Trudeau authorities was warned in regards to the misalignment greater than a yr earlier than it lastly clamped down on worldwide scholar numbers. 

A September 2022 report from RBC questioned whether or not Canada was doing sufficient to match its recruitment of worldwide college students with demand within the labour drive.

The report described a “misalignment between the research applications pursued by worldwide college students and labour market wants” and referred to as for numbers to rise in well being care, some trades and companies and schooling. 

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marc Miller rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, March 18, 2024.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marc Miller says he’ll talk about higher matching Canada’s consumption of newcomers to labour market wants when he meets his provincial and territorial counterparts on Friday. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

“I do not suppose that there was any effort or plan to match the enrolments by discipline of research to the wants of the labour market,” stated Parisa Mahboubi, a senior coverage analyst on the C.D. Howe Institute, in an interview.

IRCC authorized greater than 776,000 permits for college students to enrol in applications classed as “enterprise/commerce” or “enterprise administration, advertising and marketing and associated help companies” through the six-year timeframe coated by the info.  

In contrast, about 143,000 research permits have been issued over the identical time interval for applications classed as well being sciences, 36,000 for trades and vocational applications and 6,300 for drugs. 

Economist Armine Yalnizyan, the Atkinson Basis’s fellow on the way forward for staff, says there seems to have been “no rhyme or motive” to the sample of worldwide scholar recruitment. 

“It is promoting a false invoice of products to the [students] which can be coming right here, as a result of we do not want that many individuals which have experience in enterprise,” Yalnizyan stated in an interview.  

 “We want a lot nearer scrutiny of what expertise we try to construct via our post-secondary establishments,” Yalnizyan stated. 

Akash Singh sits on a bed holding a phone.
Akash Singh, a global scholar from India, accomplished a two-year enterprise program at a school in Ontario, at a value of $34,000. He has solely been capable of finding jobs as a safety guard and as a fast-food employee. (Aloysius Wong/CBC)

As a scholar from India, Akash Singh paid $34,000 for a two-year enterprise program via St. Clair Faculty, certainly one of Ontario’s 24 public schools. Singh studied on the school’s Toronto campus, in a program delivered by Ace Acumen Academy as a part of a public college-private partnership open solely to worldwide college students. 

Since getting his diploma in 2021, the one jobs that Singh, 22, has managed to land have been as a safety guard and in a McDonald’s restaurant. 

“I assumed I’d do my course right here, and if I get good marks, I will discover a good job associated to that discipline,” Singh stated in an interview.  

“No alternatives are right here for enterprise college students,” he stated. “I’ve been looking for jobs in finance, and it is not attainable.”

Singh says recruiters for Canadian schools primarily based in India strongly inspired college students to use for enterprise applications, telling them that admission to this system and jobs after commencement could be simple to acquire. 

He says to his information, not one of the college students in his cohort truly discovered work in business-related fields. 

Two students in conversation, seated in front of a wall with the Conestoga College logo.
Worldwide college students Jamie Niemogha (left) and Ola Fawehinmi speak on the Conestoga Faculty campus in Kitchener, Ont. Extra research permits have been issued for worldwide college students to attend Conestoga than some other Canadian school or college in 4 of the previous 5 years. (Nick Iwanyshyn/The Canadian Press)

Singh’s challenges to find related work don’t mirror what most worldwide enterprise college students have skilled, stated Ron Seguin, senior vice chairman worldwide relations at St. Clair Faculty. 

“It isn’t a narrative we hear usually, fairly actually,” stated Seguin in an interview. “These employable expertise that the coed learns might be utilized to many sectors, and that is extra the case with enterprise than anything.” 

‘Fountain of cash’ for schools

Alex Usher, president of Greater Training Technique Associates, a consulting agency, says the explosive development of worldwide college students in enterprise applications was largely pushed by schools in Ontario in search of methods to make up for provincial underfunding. 

“I do not suppose it had a lot to do with labour market wants, I believe what it needed to do with was schools’ monetary wants,” Usher stated in an interview. “It was a fountain of cash.” 

He says enterprise applications are comparatively low-cost to run, particularly in distinction with medical and technical programs. 

With schools charging every worldwide scholar within the neighbourhood of $15,000 per tutorial yr for such a program, a less-expensive-to-run course, comparable to enterprise, leaves the varsity extra income to spend elsewhere. 

Photo of Alex Usher standing beside a bookshelf.
Alex Usher is president of Greater Training Technique Associates, a post-secondary consulting agency primarily based in Toronto. (Keith Burgess/CBC)

Usher believes the provinces deserve extra of the blame than the federal authorities for the make-up of the worldwide scholar physique. 

That is as a result of the provinces have accountability to supervise the kind of applications their schools and universities supply. Though IRCC has the position of approving research permits, the provinces have the facility to restrict the variety of worldwide college students allowed to enrol in post-secondary applications. 

Earlier than this yr’s federal cap, the one province that exercised this energy was Quebec, which required every worldwide scholar to acquire an authorization letter from the provincial ministry of schooling. In different provinces, all a scholar wanted earlier than making use of for a research allow was admission from a school or college program. 

“It was attainable for provinces to manage the numbers, it is simply that 9 out of 10 of them selected to not,” stated Usher.

Ontario’s Minister of Faculties and Universities Jill Dunlop was not accessible for an interview, however her spokesperson offered an announcement.

“Faculties and universities are autonomous and have the liberty to make their very own choices concerning worldwide enrolment,” stated Liz Tuomi, Dunlop’s press secretary in an electronic mail to CBC Information. 

Jill Dunlop points during a press conference.
Jill Dunlop is Ontario’s Minister of Faculties and Universities. (Arlyn McAdorey/The Canadian Press)

Nevertheless, Ontario is barring worldwide college students from enrolling in one-year enterprise/administration applications whereas the ministry conducts a evaluation, stated Tuomi.

She stated the priorities for Ontario’s diminished allotment of worldwide scholar permits will probably be applications that “assist put together graduates for in-demand jobs,” together with expert trades, well being human sources, hospitality, youngster care and the STEM fields (science, expertise, engineering and math).

Marketa Evans, president and CEO of Faculties Ontario, the umbrella group representing the 24 publicly funded schools within the province says a “vital variety of worldwide college students” are enrolled in applications that fill key labour market wants, together with logistics, pc programming, enterprise analytics, hospitality administration, journey and tourism and culinary arts. 

900 worldwide nursing college students in Ontario schools 

“College students select what applications they take, and Ontario’s public schools supply dozens of enterprise applications which have clear labour market worth,” stated Evans in an announcement.

Some 18,000 worldwide college students are at present enrolled in applications associated to superior manufacturing and expertise, whereas 900 worldwide college students are enrolled in nursing, in line with figures offered by Faculties Ontario. 

The information obtained from IRCC present giant numbers of research permits issued wherein the particular discipline of research was labelled different (367,000) or unspecified (339,000).

IRCC officers stated it is a results of how college students crammed of their research allow functions: “different” represents when an applicant indicated their chosen discipline of research was not among the many listed classes, and “unspecified” represents when the applicant left the sphere clean.


The information introduced on this story was compiled and offered by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on March 18, 2024 and represents all new and prolonged research permits authorized by Ottawa between calendar years 2018 to 2023. The tables offered had two fields of research categorized as “Different” (~12% of permits) and “Unspecified” (~12% of permits). Between 5-7 per cent of geography fields have been recognized as “Unknown/Unspecified”. 

IRCC defined that “Different” is used “when a selected discipline of research is just not listed in a variety” and that “Unspecified” is used “when the system didn’t register a discipline of research. That is due [to] the sphere being left clean by candidates”. As well as, “Unknown/Unspecified” is used “when the geographic location is just not accessible or not entered into the system”.

On April 23, IRCC offered a second “revised” information desk, wherein all values between 0 and 5 have been suppressed “for privateness causes to stop people from being recognized when IRCC information is compiled and in comparison with publicly accessible statistics”. All others have been rounded down by a a number of of 5 for a similar motive. On account of this rounding, among the summed-up values in cells not matched the totals by geographies, years and applications.

In each tables, total developments present the identical vital development of permits associated to enterprise applications and the identical overrepresentation of these applications in comparison with different fields.

In an effort to current essentially the most exhaustive and correct numbers accessible – as figures haven’t beforehand been made public – CBC Information has retained the March 2024 desk the place the values will not be rounded for its evaluation. One exception was made: to mirror vital revisions made by IRCC that weren’t rounding, cells displaying a discrepancy of greater than 5 between the outdated and new tables have been up to date with their revised quantity. These updates largely have an effect on research permits in Quebec (2018-2023), Unknown/Unspecified geographies (2018-2023) and a handful of 2023 applications in Ontario, BC and Alberta. All totals have been recalculated to mirror the true sum of values in cells.

To guard the privateness of people, geographies and/or applications with 0-4 authorized permits in a given yr have been changed with “<5” within the publicly downloadable and searchable chart, nonetheless, the correct values have been utilized in all analyses and visualizations.

Information cleansing and evaluation: Valerie Ouellet, Senior Information Journalist (March-April 2024)


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