International students do well in job market

September 5, 2018

By Canadian Immigrant |

They outperform foreign-born-and-educated immigrants, says C.D. Howe Institute

Former international students are doing quite well in Canada’s job market compared to internationally educated immigrants but still fall behind their Canadian-born-and-educated counterparts. This finding comes from a new study from the C.D. Howe Institute.

In Comparing Outcomes: The Relative Job-Market Performance of Former International Students, authors Mikal Skuterud and Zong Jia Chen compared the performance of former international students (who studied within the first decade of the 2000s) in today’s job market with that of foreign-born-and-educated graduates as well as Canadian-born and educated people, combining data from Canada’s National Graduate Survey and Labour Force Survey.

The results indicate that former international students clearly outperform their foreign-educated counterparts by substantial margins, but they are not too far behind those born and educated in Canada.

Lag behind Canadian-born-and-educated
“Former international student gaps we identify relative to the Canadian-born-and-educated comparison group are modest,” says Skuterud. “We find essentially no shortfall in the average earnings of male former international students and Canadian-born-and-educated post-secondary graduates and only small gaps for women when we exclude education level and field of study.”

However, comparisons with foreign-born-and-educated graduates from similar academic programs, the gaps become larger and tend to be largest for women with college diplomas in fields outside of math and computer science and for Chinese men and South Asian women.

The study also noted some indication of more recent deterioration in the labour-market performance of former international students as post-secondary institutions and governments have reached deeper into foreign student pools to meet their student and immigration demands. They argue that this deterioration is most consistent with a trade-off that has occurred, as the quality and supply of international students has not kept pace with the growth in demand.

“The critical question for policymakers is to what extent these gaps reflect pre-market differences in labour-market productivity, such as English/ French language disparities, as opposed to market challenges due to weaker job-search networks or employer discrimination,” Skuterud says. “Although the driving factors have very different implications for policy, identifying their relative importance is extremely difficult.”

According to the authors, giving preference to Canadian-educated applicants in the Express Entry immigration system over foreign-educated applicants is preferable, leading to better immigrant integration.

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