Attracting international students and making sure they can enter the labour market after they graduate is one way that Canada can shrink the current skilled labour shortage. A new study released by Kitchener-based startup ApplyBoard suggests there’s good news on that front.
A lot of student visa applications have been processed by the Canadian government: a record 550,000 in 2021. And in ApplyBoard’s survey of 912 student recruitment organisations around the world, 97 per cent said that Canada provides strong postgrad opportunities. This is a better showing than the U.S., Britain and Australia. Canada offers a special employment permit to foreign students who graduate from Canadian universities to encourage them to stay and find work.
“International students are great contributors to our labour force,” says Meti Basiri, co-founder of ApplyBoard. “Thankfully, a lot of students are taking advantage of that postgrad work permit, staying and gaining experience here.”
However, Canada’s approval rate for student visas has declined from around 70 per cent in 2016 to around 60 per cent today, while the U.S. has moved in the opposite direction and now green lights around 80 per cent of applicants. If the trend continues, it could dent Canada’s attractiveness to talented young people. “We’re in an era of student choice,” Basiri says. “There’s a lot more opportunity for students now and they have more decision-making power than before.”
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