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Canada ‘ramps up’ promotion of in-person mobility

Projects for Canadian students to study abroad have been “ramping up” since in-person mobility reopened following the lifting of pandemic-related travel restrictions.

Some 78% of GSO program activity is with non-traditional countries, statistics have shown. Photo: pexels

From 2015 to 2021, a total of 108,830 Canadians participated in travel and work abroad experiences under established IEC Youth Mobility Arrangements

According to the Canadian government, efforts by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada – the department responsible for delivering the International Experience Canada program – has reached some 10 million impressions on social media, while campaigns on Google generated 286,000 impressions in 2019.

The IEC is a key part of the government’s 2019-2024 international education strategy, along with the new Global Skills Opportunity program, to promote outbound mobility among Canadian students.

The strategy said it would measure the success of its efforts through the awareness among Canadian youth of the International Experience Canada program, the number of leads generated by marketing campaigns, as well as the experiences of GSO and IEC participants.

Despite the pandemic hindering “the program’s social media promotion in 2020 to 2021 (with 54,000 and 9,700 impressions respectively)”, an increase in post impressions in 2022 has been recorded, with 76,000 impressions, the government has said.

“This increase in interest from Canadian youth is also reflected in a 42% increase in website traffic for 2021 and 2022,” an IRCC spokesperson told The PIE.

“Since 2013, an average of 19,000 Canadian youth per year have undertaken an IEC experience abroad”

Between 2019 and 2023, IRCC participated in over 200 in-person and virtual events, meeting Canadian youth, their influencers and stakeholders, they added.

“These events helped develop meaningful partnerships with new and ongoing stakeholder to raise awareness of the work and travel opportunities for Canadian youth and to address information gaps,” they said.

However, sector stakeholders have recently said more can be done to promote the IEC more widely to Canadian youth.

A government spokesperson explained that the IEC is being promoted to secondary and post-secondary youth directly via fairs, information sessions, social media, and workshops, as well as through engaging stakeholders at secondary and post-secondary institutions.

“Since 2013, an average of 19,000 Canadian youth per year have undertaken an IEC experience abroad,” IRCC said, according to information from country partners.

From 2015 to 2021, a total of 108,830 Canadians participated in travel and work abroad experiences under established IEC Youth Mobility Arrangements, they continued.

“The pandemic and its related restrictions played a significant role in the decreased amount of Canadians going abroad in 2020 and 2021, with under 12,000 Canadians going abroad over the past two years.”

In-person mobility for the GSO, officially launched in November 2021, was not able to begin until March 2022, after travel restrictions lifted.

“Since then, projects have been ramping up. As of December 31, 2022, 1,895 students had completed or were completing an experience.”

Early results indicate the new program “is on track to meet or surpass objectives related to supporting underrepresented students (74% of participants) and to support travel to non-traditional destinations (i.e., destinations other than the US, UK, France, and Australia), with 78% of participants travelling to non-traditional destinations”.

The results show positive experiences among participants, including 84% saying they have been extremely or very helpful in increasing their intercultural competencies, 79% saying they’ve improved collaboration skills and 78% have increased communication skills.

The $95 million GSO, delivered by Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada, remains a key component of the International Education Strategy, and IRCC will continue to promote opportunities for work and travel abroad through International Experience Canada.

“The program targets its promotion and engagement to all youth, regardless of whether or not they are students. IRCC is also working with some GSO funded post-secondary institutions and other key stakeholder groups that support youth in communities of interest who may have additional barriers to outbound mobility (e.g. Indigenous youth, youth identifying as part of LGBTQ2+ communities),” the IRCC spokesperson added.

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