international students are

International students are experiencing higher wages than before

A new study, done in collaboration between Statistics Canada and the IRCC, highlights the roles that international students have played in the workforce.

Over the last 20 years, one of the most important developments in this space is the change in legislation in 2014. That year, students were allowed to work up to 20 hours per week while in classes. Moreover, they were allowed to work full-time while on breaks, without needing an additional work permit. Of course, this applies to studies that lead to a degree, diploma, or certificate at a designated institution lasting 6 months or longer.

More international students working

The biggest change in the role that international students are playing in the workforce today is the sheer increase in their presence across all sectors. Between 2000-2018, the percentage of international students with paid work nearly tripled from 17.6% to 46.6%. In addition, the percentage of workers in graduate studies have remained about the same, with around half of the students obtaining paid employment. However, the numbers for college and undergraduate students skyrocketed.

In 2000, only about 7.1% of international college students were working. By 2018, this number rose to 56.9%. Undergraduate students had a more modest growth, though nearly doubled from 19.8% to 36.3%. The countries with the highest rates of working international students were:

  • Nigeria (68%)
  • India (61%)
  • Iran (54%)
  • Brazil (52%)

Furthermore, the countries with the lowest rates of working international students (in the same year) were Japan (26%), China (27%), and South Korea (34%). The study suggests that these group differences could be due to their need to financially support themselves during their studies. Also, due to their potential desires for permanent residency.

Students are making more money

According to the study, International students are also experiencing higher wages than before. In figures adjusted for 2018 dollars, the median wage for international students rose from $5,500 to $9,500.

Students in college had the highest median wage in 2018 ($10,900), followed by graduate students ($8,800), then undergraduate students ($7,000).

It also held true that older students had higher median wages than younger students. Between 2000-2018, both the number of students working without an additional work permit and their wages increased substantially. Median wages for these students nearly doubled from $3,700 to $6,200.

It should be noted that students with an additional work permit made more across all years, though their growth was smaller (from $11,800 to $14,700).

International students with paid employment by provinces

Alberta, Ontario, and British Columbia had the highest median earnings across all the provinces ($10,700; $10,100; and $10,000 respectively), while Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick had the lowest median wages ($6,500; $7,000; and $7,500 respectively).

Most common sectors

The sector with the most international students is accommodations and food services, with 25.9% of all international students working there in 2018. This makes up a significant portion of the whole sector, making up 4.6% of all workers and 2.5% of all earnings. The next most popular sectors were business, building and other support services (3.9% of all workers and 1.09% of all earnings), and educational services (2.4% of all workers and 0.39% of all earnings).

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