Nova Scotia’s Study and Stay pilot program will be expanded to Canada’s other Atlantic provinces to help international students secure work in their fields of study and stay in the region after they graduate.
The announcement came out of a February 20 news conference that heard from Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, and the premiers of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.
Study and Stay is a pilot program that is currently geared towards international students enrolled in community colleges and universities in Nova Scotia.
The program targeted a group of final-year international students with an established goal of helping 80 per cent of them secure jobs related to their fields of study.
The success of the pilot program in Nova Scotia resulted in a decision by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to extend the program to New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador as a way to attract and retain international students who have completed their studies in these provinces.
Each Atlantic province will adapt the program to meet its unique labour market needs of each Atlantic province.
The Study and Stay pilot is designed to compliment what’s known as the Atlantic Growth Strategy, a regional economic development program that aims to attract and retain skilled workers to Atlantic Canada in order to meet local labour market needs.
The Atlantic Growth Strategy also gave rise to the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program in 2017, which has helped employ 1,300 skilled workers and international students in the region.
Hussen said that the extension of the Study and Stay program to other Atlantic provinces is aligned with the Atlantic Immigration Pilot and the overall vision of growth in the region.
“Atlantic Canada has many high quality post-secondary institutions, so attracting and retaining international students is an important element to the immigration story of this region,” he said.
The key objectives of the program as a region-wide initiative will be to attract, recruit, and facilitate the integration and retention of international students into the workforce and local communities in Atlantic Canada.
Scott Brison, president of the federal Treasury Board, said the Atlantic Growth Strategy’s link with the region’s post-secondary institutions is key to Atlantic Canada’s economic development.
“By working with universities and colleges throughout Atlantic Canada to attract and retain students, and expanding the global reach of our products and services through various initiatives, we help local businesses thrive, leading to better, higher paying jobs for the middle class,” he said.
What the Study and Stay Program offers international students?
The Study and Stay program is designed to help international students transition from “students” to “professionals” by offering them employment-readiness events, workshops and career mentorship.
A key goal is to help international students to develop their language and soft skills and to build professional networks, allowing them to overcome obstacles, such as cultural, social and language barriers that may put them at a disadvantage in securing employment.
A 2016 study indicated that students graduating from post-secondary institutions in Atlantic Canada would welcome opportunities to stay and work in the region. However, many end up leaving because it’s hard to find work.
Countering this outmigration of international students is a priority of the Study and Stay initiative and any international students studying at an Atlantic Canada university or college can apply to participate in the expanded program.
One attractive feature of the program is the assistance provided to international students who are interested in pursuing permanent residency in Atlantic Canada through immigration programs such as Provincial Nominee Programs and the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, which currently has a pathway specifically catering to international graduates.
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