Education

Canadian border openings “critical” to tackle skill gaps

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In a white paper focused on the role of colleges and institutes in Canada’s “resilient” recovery, CICan said that along with meeting the needs of students and communities in Canada, its members need to train international students and new immigrants who can transition to work in the country to fill labour shortage gaps.

“Safely reopening our borders to international talent will play a critical role in tackling skills gaps”

“Colleges and institutes are ideally placed to support Canadians and help their communities recover in the months ahead,” the paper suggested.

“Given the global nature of this pandemic, which has interrupted international travel, ensuring Canada continues to attract the international students who will become such an important part of our future workforce will be equally important.”

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While educators need to help “Canadians develop the skills they need to succeed in uncertain times”, they can also meet the evolving labour requirements of employers by “attracting international students to Canada and helping them transition to the labour market and citizenship”.

“Helping Canadian businesses, particularly SMEs, innovate and grow by leveraging the full potential of college and institute applied research capacity will also be critical as we look to rebuild a resilient, sustainable and green economy,” CICan said.

The pandemic has “compounded” problems with “an ageing population creating labour shortages that need to be addressed through immigration”, CICan said.

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“Safely reopening our borders to international talent will play a critical role in tackling skills gaps in many sectors and meeting the labour needs of Canadian employers,” the report read.

Canada’s colleges and institutes can also help newcomers in the country to “upgrade their skills, transition foreign credentials or reorient their career”.

“Thanks to a variety of formal credentials, including joint degrees, diplomas and certificates, Canadian and international students also have access to many diverse pathways to achieve their education and career goals,” CICan suggested.

“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 in 2019. A majority of these international students will work in Canada and intend on applying for permanent residence.”

Canada’s minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco E. L. Mendicino announced that from December 14, IRCC will begin accepting applications for permanent residence from refugee claimants who work in Canada’s health-care sector and provide direct care to patients.

In November, IRCC said it planned to attract some 1,233,000 new permanent residents to the country between 2021 and 2023.

Mendicino indicated that by allowing temporary residents to become permanent, the country’s short-term needs to respond to Covid-19 and longer-term demographic challenges – mainly around its ageing population – could be addressed.

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“For those who are already in Canada and here on a temporary basis, it behooves us to see whether or not there’s a way to accelerate their pathway to becoming Canadian,” Mendicino told Bloomberg.

“[International students] are a very attractive pool that we’re going to look very closely at”

“International students who tend to be a younger population, who tend to be right at the outset of their careers having a longer period within their lifespan to contribute and they are a very attractive pool that we’re going to look very closely at,” he said in November.

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