Youth International Student Retention

November 2014 Month Theme: Youth and International Student Retention

Summarized Excerpts from the oneNS Commission Report

Background and Current Situation

  • The periods in our history when the economy grew correspond to waves of new immigrants ( early to mid-19th century and post-WWII)
  • Nova Scotians are positive about newcomers from other parts of Canada but less welcoming to immigrants. Some believes that immigrants take away jobs. Rural residents are more concerned
  • Immigrants to NS are generally successful. 42% have a university education (17% non-immigrants); 7.4% unemployed (10% immigrants across Canada)
  • Our retention rates have improved (48% 1996-2001 to over 70% since). But in an average year between 1972–2012, Canada increased international immigration at a rate 3.3 times greater
  • Relatively low rates of attraction/retention, along with negative inter-provincial migration, are factors that most clearly differentiate us from other provinces and contribute to our weaker economic growth over the past 30 years
  • Weak growth has resulted in a loss of skilled workers and educated youth to other regions and limited new investment and immigration
  • We need significantly higher rates of attraction/retention of inter-provincial and international immigrants to grow the population, increase the number of entrepreneurs, and renew the labour force
  • Mi’kmaq communities are enjoying positive population growth trends
  • International and inter-provincial immigration is needed for an economic boost (new business start-ups, expanded investment, new ways of thinking) as is majority support for policies to increase the attraction/retention especially in rural
  • Tourism and post-secondary are important entry points; these impacts should be expanded. Many young people come to the province to attend universities and stay on to start businesses in leading edge fields
  • More attention needs to be directed to the many ways in which new people in our communities create jobs
  • Technical issues (assessing foreign education and training) need to be addressed (we’re building capacity) as do negative attitudes and racism
  • First Nations as they leverage their land and resources for exciting economic development. Innovative partnerships, collaboration with surrounding communities, non-First Nations businesses and wider industry groups in sectors such as tourism and hospitality, fisheries and commercial real estate are key
  • African Nova Scotian entrepreneurs are building businesses and mentoring youth and new start-ups in their communities
  • Community organizations are build social enterprises and expanding training and employment support for women, older workers, at-risk youth and people with disabilities



Goal 3: Retention of International Students

An annual average of 10% of foreign students graduating from Nova Scotia universities, the Nova Scotia Community College and other education and training bodies will be making choices to become permanent residents of the province (i.e., roughly double the current rate).

Goal 9: Youth Employment

Nova Scotia’s youth unemployment rate (currently 19.5%) will be at or better than the national rate in that year (currently 14.0%)

Goal 10: Post-Secondary Education and Training

The proportion of Nova Scotia’s working age population with a post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree, including apprenticeship completion, will have increased from the current 55% to 65%

Game Changers

  1. Excellence in Education and Training
  • Improvements in public education are needed to prepare youth for transition from school to work in a knowledge-driven economy. Support for cirriculum review
  • Too many schools have low enrolment, this drains resources away from improvements in quality
  • Encouragement for more distance delivery and asynchronous learning
  • Applauds Workforce of the Future. It has drawn out key priorities that link our education system to the labour market:

o Expanding employer engagement in apprenticeship;

o Linking Nova Scotians to jobs in growth sectors;

o Pursuing excellence in math and science;

o Improving youth retention; and,

o Promoting entrepreneurship

  • Enthusiastic about increased focus on mathematics and science
  • Further innovations in curricula and teaching methods should be explored; including the introduction of computer programming at the junior high level
  • Governments, employers, worker organizations and major institutional partners need to work together on new ways to provide rural industries with workers and improve the quality and attractiveness of such employment
  • Advances have been made to support foreign credentials/prior learning. We need to press forward
  • The post-secondary system can model–and potentially be a catalyst for–the kind of change required throughout the province


  1. Becoming A More Inclusive and Welcoming Province
  • Most people support immigration to grow the population; some fear that new immigrants will take jobs away
  • Some do not stay because professional/trade credentials are not recognized or they do not find employers and communities welcoming
  • Welcoming programs have been highly successful in some communities, but need to be embraced throughout the province
  • When an immigrant family settles they often encourage family and friends to come. Having clusters of people with shared cultural backgrounds helps with attraction/retention
  • Employers need to encourage use of available tools for international credential recognition, assessment of occupational competencies and prior learning
  • Employee engagement programs and harassment free workplace policies are essential
  • Hiring international students so they can gain Canadian experience and build networks of support will encourage more skilled young immigrants to stay
  • The communities around our universities have a role to play in creating a welcoming social environment for youth from other countries and cultures
  • We need to be more inclusive of our visible minority communities – Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotians – and people with disabilities. They are key contributors to local economic development, entrepreneurship and workforce renewal