May 4, 2018 – Canada lost two thirds of recent software engineering graduates from its top universities to the United States, according to a new study.
A third of recent computer engineering and computer science graduates are also currently working south of the border, the study reveals, showing the major brain drain problem facing the Canadian economy.
The study, entitled ‘Reversing the Brain Drain: Where is Canadian STEM Talent Going?’, looked at graduates from 2015 and 2016 in 22 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. It focused on graduates from the University of Toronto, University of Waterloo and University of British Columbia.
The alarming figures suggest Canada has a long way to go in reversing the flow of talent out of the country.
It found overall that one of four graduates from these subjects – seen as central to economic growth – are working outside Canada. Leading the way were software engineering graduates at 66 per cent, followed by of computer engineering (30 per cent), computer science (30 per cent) and engineering science (27 per cent).
“Examining a sample of Canadian STEM graduates from three large Canadian universities, we find evidence of “brain drain” in Canada’s technology and innovation sector,” the report reads.
“While we see some human capital talent migration across STEM fields, it is highest in programs directly related to computer science and engineering. The United States is the main destination of choice for those who seek work abroad, with large American multi-national technology firms the main beneficiaries.”
The study makes some key recommendations on how Canada can hold on to its technology talent, ranging from increasing salaries to compete with the U.S., to ensuring co-op placements are with Canadian firms. From a government point of view, the report calls for increased funding for research and development.
One key factor to consider from the study is that it focuses on graduates from 2015 and 2016. Since these years, there has been a major shift in the political landscape in the U.S., with Donald Trump elected president and enacting protectionist, anti-immigration policies.
Early analysis suggests this has not only made the U.S. harder to access for the best talent from all over the world, including Canada, but also less attractive to the brightest, in-demand graduates who often have their pick of countries to move to.
It has been widely reported that the U.S. H1-B visa for skilled workers has become deliberately bogged down in red tape, with candidates who would have sailed through in the pre-Trump era now finding their applications stalled.
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The renegotiation of NAFTA is also of key important to the brightest Canadian graduates. Under the treaty, Canadians have priority access to Treaty NAFTA work visas, which could be taken away depending on how the renegotiation progresses.
Canada’s federal government has taken a number of steps via immigration policy to try and attract both foreign technology talent and international graduates here in the last 18 months.
The new Global Talent Stream, launched in June 2017, features standard 10 working day processing, gives employers a timely, responsive and client-focused service via a referral or if hiring for a position included on the Global Talent Occupations List
Key Elements of The Global Talent Stream
- Two-week standard for processing Canada work permit applications (and Canada visa applications when applicable) for highly skilled talent.
- Dedicated service for companies looking to make significant job-creating investments in Canada.
- Companies applying for workers through the Global Talent Stream will have access to the new streamlined application process that will provide:
- Client-focused service to help guide eligible employers through the application process and the development of the Labour Market Benefits Plan, with a service standard of 10 business days.
- Eligibility for workers to have their work permit applications processed in 10 business days.
To attract more international graduates to stay and build careers in Canada, the government has introduced points under Canada Express Entry. In November 2016, Comprehensive Ranking System points were added for three-year post secondary, master’s, professional degrees and doctorates (30 CRS points) and post-secondary diplomas lasting one or two years (15 CRS points). No points are awarded for a Canadian high school education or below. This gives many graduates the extra push they need to achieve a coveted Invitation to Apply.
The federal government and relevant provinces also promote the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, which includes a category aimed at international graduates. It was introduced earlier in 2017 to try and reverse aging populations and shrinking labour markets in the Atlantic provinces of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
Quebec Experience Program
In Quebec, the international graduate stream, which forms part of the Quebec Experience Program, is the only provincial program that offers permanent immigration to diploma and undergraduate degree holders, without a job offer.
The category imposes an advanced intermediate oral French requirement, but this stipulation is waived if half of the candidate’s studies are completed in Quebec and the qualification is recognized by the province. Candidates must either complete their studies in French or pass a French language test to transition to Canadian permanent residence.
The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program runs a similar program without the need for a job offer, but it is aimed at Master’s and PhD graduates. The education requirement, therefore, is much more onerous, and the candidate must have English or French at Canadian Benchmark Level 7 or higher. The Ontario Master’s and PhD streams are open periodically throughout the year.
International students can already qualify to work in Canada after graduation by applying for a Post Graduate Work Permit. Here they can gain valuable Canadian work experience through a special work permit issued for the length of the study program, up to a maximum of three years. The work experience could then be used to qualify for permanent residence, through one of the above avenues.
Post Graduate Work Permit Requirements
- Studied full time in Canada in a program of at least 8 months duration.
- Graduated from a public post-secondary institution, a private post-secondary institution, or a private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees.
- Submit an application for a work permit within 90 days after receiving written confirmation of completing a study program.
- Received notification of eligibility to obtain a degree, diploma or certificate.
- Possess a valid Canada study visa or Canada study permit.
Citizenship Made Easier
Recent changes to Canadian citizenship requirements are also beneficial to international students, allowing them to count their time spent in Canada while studying towards a citizenship application. Study permit holders can count a half day for each full day spent in Canada towards a citizenship application, up to a maximum of a year.
At the same time the overall physical presence requirement was reduced from four years in six to three years in five, allowing international students to become Canadian citizenships just two years after graduation.
Interested employers: Kindly contact us here to receive further information.
Interested candidates: Find out whether you qualify to Canada by completing our free on-line evaluation. We will provide you with our evaluation within 1-2 business days.
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