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Canada: int’l grad & Canadian counterpart pay gap narrows over time

International students who remain in Canada earn between 17% and 38% less than Canadian graduates one year after graduation, a report has found. However, the salary gap appears to narrow over time as international graduates remain in the country.

Five years after graduation, business, management and public administration international masters graduates were earning on average $37,800 less than Canadian counterparts. Photo: pexels/ Buro Millennial

International students may be disadvantaged due to not having the same work rights

“The most commonly cited challenges of respondents when approaching the labour market were that they lacked work experience”

According to the Labour Market Information Council’s ‘How Much Do They Make?’ report, international students graduating in 2010 and finding work in Canada earned 21% – on average CAD$9,000 – less than Canadian graduates one year following graduation.

However, the earnings differential shrinks over time, to reach 9% ($5,300) after five years, according to the report.

The difference in earnings is by far the greatest at the master’s level, where international graduates earn $25,700 (or 38%) less than Canadian graduates in the first year, with this gap narrowing to $16,800 (or 20%) five years after graduation.

A 2019 Statistics Canada report also found that international graduates earn less than Canadian peers with similar educational background six years after graduation.

But when field of study is taken into account, there were some surprising findings.

Analysing all college and university graduates from publicly-funded Canadian post-secondary institutions from 2010-2014, the LMIC report noted that international graduates of mathematics, computer and information sciences, and health and related fields masters courses tended to earn more than Canadian graduates.

After five years following graduation, maths and information technology international masters graduates earned 7.8% more ($5,800), while health graduates were earning 6.0% more ($4,600).

This was starkly contrasted to business, management and public administration, and education masters graduates, who were earning 35.5% ($37,800) and 40.0% ($32,400) less than Canadian graduates.

International student and graduate employability is becoming an increasingly important issue within the Canadian sector, according to Larissa Bezo CBIE president and chief executive officer.

Students from overseas may be disadvantaged due to not having the same work rights as their Canadian counterparts while they study, she explained.

“International students may be less likely than Canadian students to combine school and work because of the work restrictions imposed by their study work permits which determine how much time a student can commit to working while studying,” she told The PIE News.

A 2018 CBIE survey found that 57% of the students surveyed were unemployed, with 56% claiming they were having difficulty finding work.

“The most commonly cited challenges of respondents when approaching the labour market were that they lacked work experience, followed by not finding appropriate jobs for their skill sets, and finally struggling to fit employment into their study schedule,” Bezo said.

“International student and graduate employability is becoming an increasingly important issue”

“At present, there is considerable effort being undertaken by Canadian post-secondary institutions to ensure that they have support and mechanisms in place to help international students achieve successful employability outcomes,” she added.

International students can join co-op programs available within their institutions that allow them to gain valuable paid work experience while completing their degrees in Canada, according to the CBIE president.

Those co-op opportunities can also encompass international opportunities in some instances, she said.

“CBIE will be administering the next wave of its international student survey in 2020 and looks forward to gaining further insights into barriers and opportunities related to international student and graduate employability later this year.”

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