Gonzalo Peralta, Executive Director of language teaching association Languages Canada, said that he has seen a number of the association’s members setting up career colleges or entering new partnerships that will allow them to offer work experience in different ways.
“This clearly points to the demand for work experience as an integral aspect of language acquisition”
“This clearly points to the demand for work experience as an integral aspect of language acquisition,” he told The PIE News. “It is unfortunate that the Canadian government is forcing the language education sector to conform to inappropriate policy instead of creating policy to foster growth and innovation.”
ILAC, one of Canada’s leading language schools, opened the doors to its new career college, the School of Service Excellence, in January, shortly before being forced to discontinue its language co-op programmes, two of which had recently been accredited by Languages Canada.
While Executive Director Jonathan Kolber said that the programme is “not related” to any of ILAC’s previous language co-ops, it follows a trend that answers growing demand from international students for ‘real-world’ work experience in an environment that enables them to practise their language skills.
“Customer service jobs are in great demand in Canada, and many newcomers to Canada begin their careers in the service industry,” he said.
Richard Novek, Director of Operations at global language school chain ILSC Education Group, said that the changes, “while challenging for language schools”, have created an opportunity for career colleges.
ILSC has added new co-op courses in the two branches of its 11-year-old career college, Greystone College, which were accredited in December 2013, “to make up for the loss of co-op programs in the language schools,” he told The PIE News.
Novek said that he has noticed a number of competitors opening career colleges in both Ontario and British Columbia “to take advantage of or compensate for” the regulatory changes.
However, he added that strict and differing regulations across Canada’s provinces have put some institutions at a disadvantage, with some forced to wait up to two years before being accredited under the ISP’s new mandatory accreditation scheme for visa issuing education institutions.
“Some schools, like us, saw this coming and are ahead of the curve,” Novek said. “So far, enrolments have been good and are increasing steadily.”
“Some schools like us, saw this coming and are ahead of the curve”
While the new regulation has faced fierce opposition from Languages Canada, rules allowing international students on courses of more than six months to work off campus have been welcomed by the sector overall.
“In fact, the new legislation will make it easier rather than harder for international students at designated learning institutions to work in co-op programmes and internships,” Randall Martin, Executive Director of the British Columbia Council for International Education (BCCIE), told The PIE News.
“What we are seeing is not a curtailment of co-op programmes, but the removal of the work permit as a barrier to student work experience.”