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International Students in Canada – An increasing number have engaged in the labour market over the past decade

The number of international students has grown considerably worldwide, primarily from developing countries to Western developed countries. In recent years, Canada has led other major Western countries in the growth of international students. The opportunity for international students to work in Canada after graduation and to potentially become permanent residents, and ultimately Canadian citizens, is considered a draw factor for prospective international students. When international students decide to stay and work in Canada after graduation, one of the main avenues to do so is through the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP). This article examines the trends in the number and share of international students participating in the PGWPP and the share of PGWP holders with employment income and their earnings levels. The transitions of PGWP holders to permanent residency are also examined.

Key findings

  • The number of new post-graduation work permit holders has increased, with the largest gains occurring among those from India and those intending to work in Ontario.
  • The share of post-graduation work permit holders reporting earnings has remained fairly stable but differs by source country.
  • Median earnings of post-graduation work permit holders have risen over the past decade.
  • The number of post-graduation work permit holders transitioning to permanent residency is increasing, particularly among those with a study permit at the college or master’s degree level.

The number of international students participating in the PGWPP after their studies has increased markedly, driven by increasing numbers of international students in Canada and larger shares of international student graduates obtaining a post-graduation work permit (PGWP).

The labour market participation of PGWP holders (defined as the share of PGWP holders with positive T4 earnings) remained fairly stable from 2008 to 2018, with roughly three-quarters of PGWP holders reporting T4 earnings annually. With the rise in the number of PGWP holders, the number of PGWP holders with T4 earnings grew more than 13 times, from 10,300 in 2008 to 135,100 in 2018. Median annual earnings received by PGWP holders with employment income also rose over this period, from $14,500 (in 2018 dollars) in 2008 to $26,800 in 2018.

Almost three-quarters of all PGWP holders became permanent residents within five years of having obtained their PGWP. When levels of study are compared, the rates of transition to permanent residency were highest among those who held a study permit for college- and master’s-level programs. Both of these education groups showed a trend towards increased transition rates across cohorts, with more recent cohorts having higher rates of transition at similar points in time relative to earlier cohorts.

In sum, increasing numbers of international students have meant that increasing numbers of PGWP holders have engaged in the Canadian labour market over the past decade. Through participation in the PGWPP and subsequent transition to permanent residency for many, international students provided a growing source of labour for the Canadian labour market that extended well beyond their periods of study.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @  International students as a source of labour supply: Engagement in the labour market after graduation


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