Canada’s mixture of immigration pathways and job opportunities have made it a firm favorite for international students considering a master’s in management degree abroad.
The Canadian government recognizes the contributions of international students to the country’s economy and is stepping up efforts to encourage more immigration. In 2021, Canada welcomed 300,000 international students, nearly double the year before and above pre-pandemic levels.
Skills shortages are a primary reason behind the move to bolster Canadian immigration. “Canada’s economy is robust and stable,” says Jessica Lee, senior recruitment manager at the UBC Sauder School of Business in Vancouver. “Our workforce is very diverse and multicultural. Post-Covid, the job market is booming, with lots of opportunities in consulting, finance, healthcare and tech, to name a few.”
She says international students from the school’s nine-month Master of Management program pursue a variety of career paths. “What our partner employers are looking for is transferable skills and high emotional intelligence, with a spotlight on adaptability, optimism, resilience and empathy,” she adds. “Many of our graduates stay within Vancouver to work upon graduation. A small percentage of our international graduates move to other provinces to work.”
There are career opportunities for foreign students to work across the length and breadth of Canada after a graduate business degree.
“Canada’s very welcoming immigration policies, particularly for skilled workers and students, open up a world of possible career paths for international students,” says Kerri Regan, director of the Master of International Business at the Smith School of Business, Queen’s University in Kingston.
The post-graduation work permit (PGWP) allows overseas students who have graduated from an accredited Canadian institution to gain valuable work experience in the country for up to three years after graduation. The permit “removes barriers for organizations to hire international students and brings the focus onto a candidate’s skills and abilities and not their legal ability to work” says Regan.
Canada has built a reputation of being welcoming of immigrants and valuing multiculturalism. “I believe there is an openness in Canada that helps students to feel welcome,” Regan says.
Those with Canadian work experience are eligible to apply for permanent residency. Canada has set a target of 432,000 permanent residents this year, as an aging population and lower birth rates force the government to boost levels of immigration to support the labor force and economic growth.
One of the most popular paths to permanent residency is the Express Entry route for skilled workers, expanded this year to help tackle a massive backlog of immigration applications. Express Entry is an online system that streamlines application for permanent residency.
The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is the second leading pathway to immigrate to Canada as a skilled worker after Express Entry. It is used by individual Canadian provinces—such as Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario — to welcome skilled workers.
“International students bring a global and unique perspective to their new employer in Canada, having worked in different regions, which is a great way to market themselves,” says Minoo Bhutani, director of the Career Development Centre at York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto.
More than 95 percent of students on the school’s 12-month full-time Master of Management course end up staying in Canada when they graduate. They have access to in-house immigration specialists advising to support them in obtaining work authorization and reaching their permanent residence goals.
Furthermore, MiM students have full access to all the resources at the Career Development Centre, including individual appointments with industry advisors, career education workshops and professional etiquette development. The institution also hosts regular networking events for students to interact with alumni and recruiters.
“All international graduate students have access to all career opportunities as any domestic students,” says Bhutani, adding that financial services, consulting and technology firms are the largest recruiters of students from the MiM program.
The functional roles vary from employer to employer. “Banks typically hire students in the capital markets, commercial banking, finance and in leadership development programs,” he adds. “Consultants are hired in management consulting and technology consulting capacities.”
The Smith School also has a dedicated team of career management professionals offering everything from CV construction, to advising on mock interviews in order to help international students better understand the Canadian hiring landscape.
In addition, the alumni network is a valuable resource for navigating the job market after graduation. “We encourage students from the very beginning of their degree to start leveraging all these tools,” says Regan.