International Students & Economic Growth

Updated: Feb 2, 2023

The role of newcomers and international students in driving Canadian economic growth against the background of post-Covid-19 recovery, Canada announced ambitious new immigration targets to meet labour market needs and support ongoing economic prosperity as the population ages and birthrate remains low.

A strong pipeline of global talent will be required in the years to come to respond to labour market shortages. This need for talent will, and has already begun to appear, across all sectors with labour shortages in industries as varied as medicine to transportation and food. More rapid integration into community is vital to ensure newcomers settle and integrate into Canadian workplaces and society.

However, new immigrants continue to face barriers that generate frustration and prevent employers from fully benefiting from the human capital immigrants bring, this includes a growing immigrant wage gap and difficulties getting foreign credentials recognized. In addition to existing barriers, the pandemic has had a greater impact on immigrants than Canadian born workers, as newcomers are disproportionately represented in fields most hard hit by shutdowns and saw slower returns to work.

Colleges and institutes across Canada play a critical role in supporting skilled immigrants, and facilitating their integration:

• They are critical providers of immigrant services, including second language training, employment related services and community connections.

• They offer specialized academic upgrading programs to international and newcomer students

• Colleges and institutes represent the fastest-growing level of study for international students in Canada, accounting for just under half of all study permit holders at the post-secondary level, a significant source of newcomers across Canada.

To understand the challenges facing Canada’s immigration system, learn best practices from other countries, and appreciate the role of Canadian colleges in immigrant integration, Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) embarked on a project to answer the following:

1. What role do Canada’s colleges and institutes play in the immigration landscape?

2. How can we leverage the full capacity of Canada’s colleges and institutes to ensure successful immigrant integration and build a recovery-ready workforce, drive innovation and support sustainability?

To answer these questions and inform the study, CICan conducted an environmental scan of Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) funded settlement services at colleges, conducted a literature review and interviews, gathered colleges for a roundtable of members already delivering settlement services, and conducted structured interviews with members and key stakeholders in the settlement sector. These activities enabled us to deepen ourunderstanding of Canada’s immigration landscape and trends, including policy and emerging market trends, explored global best practices, and gained a better understanding of the gaps that exist and how colleges can fill them.