Thrive in Canada’s Labour Market

More than 70% of Canada’s population growth comes from immigration. This figure is no accident. Immigrants help to increase the country’s diversity, which makes communities stronger and enables us to improve our relationship with the rest of the world. Immigrants also make valuable and essential contributions to the workforce.

Did you know?

Immigration will account for 100% of Canada’s labour force growth by 2025.

The Canadian labour market has a great need for skilled workers from diverse fields, professions and practices. In recent years, some of the sectors with the most demand for workers were health care, social assistance, manufacturing, hospitality and information technology (IT). The labour market shortage also affects regulated occupations and skilled trades. Of course, shortage trends and necessary workplace skills keep evolving. Canada wants immigrants to thrive and contribute to the workforce while succeeding in their new communities.

You are immigrating to Canada soon and are determined and ready to succeed. What should you do next?

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Boost Your Employability in Canada

You have completed years of education before you arrive in Canada. The skills and credentials you bring with you can help you enter the workforce.

The Canadian labour market comes with its unique set of considerations. You may need to update your resume to meet Canadian employer standards. Or you may need to learn new skills, such as industry-specific language or Canadian workplace etiquette. You may also want to build a network of organizations, businesses and individuals who can connect you with employment opportunities. Pre-arrival information and connections are important to increase your chances of becoming employed faster. Amar Desai’s story is a good example.

Different pathways and decisions will lie before you. If you want to find a job in certain sectors, you may choose to undertake further specific training. You may choose to learn new skills or update the ones you already have. Or you may be interested in exploring new career paths.

Planning for Canada can provide you with the right information and connections to help you get a good head start and thrive in the Canadian labour market. Learn more about our process.


More than 50% of adults in Canada have higher education qualifications.

Validate Your Credentials

Did you know?

Foreign credentials in regulated occupations are not always valid in Canada.

If you haven’t done so already, have your foreign credentials and education assessed by a designated agency recognized by Canada. This step will be important in your immigration journey because the assessment can make it easier for you to find work or study. Jobs in Canada fall under two different categories: regulated and non-regulated. Your intended occupation will determine whether you are legally required to have your credentials assessed and recognized.

Regulated occupations

You must go through a foreign credential recognition process if you intend to work in a regulated occupation.  

Regulatory bodies and professional organizations govern regulated occupations, ensuring that domestic and international candidates meet standards of practice. Doctors, pharmacists, teachers, architects, social workers, accountants and engineers are just a few examples of regulated occupations.

The recognition of your foreign credentials and qualifications will depend on where you settle. The regulatory body in your province or territory may need to assess and formally recognize your qualifications, work experience and skills so you can obtain a certification, licence or proof of registration. In some cases, the recognition can be costly and time-consuming and may require passing examinations. Learn more about regulated occupations and foreign-credential recognition from the Government of Canada.

Non-regulated occupations

Most jobs in Canada are not regulated. However, individual employers in non-regulated sectors may request that you validate your credentials. Your employer may validate your credentials internally or they may ask you to submit them to a professional association to be assessed.

You will get a better sense of what you should do next once you complete your qualifications and credentials assessment, and learn about the requirements and in-demand skills of your occupation. You may need to upgrade your skills to work in your field, get a licence, pursue a related or alternative career, or explore further training.

Courses offered through colleges and universities, community organizations and settlement agencies are a quick way for you to get a Canadian credential that employers will recognize. Courses also offer a space for you to connect with other people and the community, and start building a network in your new home.

Register for our program and learn more about the steps you can take before and after arrival so you can get a head start.

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Integrate Into the Canadian Workplace

Many learning and training opportunities exist to help you break into the Canadian workplace faster. Some training is available pre-arrival, while most training options will be available once you get here. The options you can consider once you’ve settled in Canada include accreditation courses, skills upgrading, job-related language training and bridging programs. Some are offered by settlement agencies, and others by colleges, cégeps and institutes. You can learn more about Canadian colleges and institutes further down this page.

Bridging programs

These are short courses designed for internationally educated professionals. They can help you get the training and experience you need to bridge your foreign education to a Canadian context. Some of these programs are meant to help you get a Canadian licence or certification while you work in your field in Canada. Colleges and settlement agencies offer many bridging programs designed for diverse occupations and trades. The duration of each program depends on your intended occupation, lasting generally between a few months to a year. Provinces and territories fund bridging programs, so many of them are free or low-cost. To learn more about these programs, consult your intended province or territory of destination, ask a settlement agency or check a college’s website. A few examples of the bridging programs available to immigrants are:

Job-related language training

These courses help you build cultural awareness, enhance your language skills for the Canadian workplace, and find and keep a job that matches your skills and qualifications. Language training courses are also important because they focus on language expectations in specific occupations. Language training programs help you interact with colleagues, clients and supervisors more effectively. Also known as Enhanced Language Training (ELT) or Occupation-Specific Language Training (OSLT), these programs have flexible evening and weekend hours that fit your needs. Many are available fully online or in a blended format (online and in person). Depending on the provider, some are offered for free, while others charge fees.

Discover Canada’s Colleges and Institutes

Canada has the second highest number of people enrolled in post-secondary institutions among OECD countries.

Accessible and high-quality education is vital to promote economic growth. Colleges and institutes prepare you to respond to labour market needs quickly. These institutions focus their programs on experience and skills-based learning, essential workplace training, and professional and technical upskilling. With a college education, you stay agile and competitive in a constantly evolving workforce. In other words, you’re trained to think better and do better, learn continuously and adapt your learning and experience to face whatever the future may bring. In a college, you will develop the necessary tools to obtain quality employment, stay in your chosen city and contribute to your new community’s success.

Canadian colleges and institutes are recognized worldwide for offering skills training that focuses on employment. These institutions create close connections with employers, governments and local communities to provide you with diverse academic programs and quick pathways to employment.

You can apply your learning in work-integrated opportunities like internships and co-operative programs (work terms), apprenticeships, field placements, applied research projects and service learning. These work-related components allow you to put your school learning into practice in a real-world setting and build your professional network. Programs offered at these institutions are based on current economic needs. This approach means that businesses and industries have a say in the development of curricula and work-placement options. This close relationship ensures greater and faster employability in your field.

Over 95% of Canadians live within 50km of their local college or institute. This proximity makes it easier to access education, especially if you live in small communities and northern areas. The ability of colleges and institutes to respond at rapid speeds, paired with the hands-on approach to learning, makes these institutions great options if you want to enter and thrive in the workforce faster after arrival. To find a college near you, visit the Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) directory.

Training options for everyone

If you want to upgrade your skills, colleges and institutes offer multiple options for you to get meaningful work faster. These program options include flexible and varied credentials that you can complete in a short amount of time. This approach is known as continued education or lifelong learning. Programs such as these make it easy for you to gain more skills at any point in your life or career journey. Whether you need to adjust your education level to Canadian requirements or learn a new skill to change career paths, you will find the right credential that suits you best.

Continuing education

Continuing education courses adapt to your schedule and give you the flexibility you need to manage other responsibilities in your life. You can also take continuing education courses individually because they are not part of a full-length program and generally do not lead to a diploma or degree. Most courses are offered during the evenings or on weekends, and help you update your skills and remain current in your career.

Certificates and diplomas

Certificate programs generally have a short duration, from a few months to a year. On the other hand, diplomas last a bit longer—from one to two years. Certificate and diploma programs can make you more appealing to employers, help you redirect your career, improve your income and expand your skills.

Post-graduate certificates and diplomas

Post-graduate certificate and diploma programs are ideal if you already come with an education from your home country, as they are more specialized and have more complex admission requirements. Similarly to regular certificate and diploma programs, post-graduate programs are designed to enhance your career and skills via practical and work-integrated learning.

Find your post-graduate certificate or diploma with CICan’s program finder.


These are rapid training programs that can complement traditional certifications (certificates, diplomas, degrees). They can also be standalone qualifications. These programs are designed to respond to industry needs and equip you with in-demand skills. Visit CICan’s page on microcredentials to learn more.

Collaborative programs

Canada’s higher education system lets you personalize your training, and in some cases, transfer between the different types of post-secondary institutions. Colleges and universities sometimes partner to offer joint programs that give you the opportunity to earn one or more credentials. For example, you can complete a two-year diploma at a college and then transfer those credits to the third or fourth year of a university’s program to earn a bachelor’s degree as well.

 UniversityCollege or instituteCollaborative
Academic upgradingnoyesno
Apprenticeship trainingnoyesno
Bachelor’s degreeyesyesyes
Co-operative educationyesyesno
Doctoral degreeyesnono
Language trainingnoyesno
Master’s degreeyesyesyes
Post-graduate certificate or diplomayesyesyes
Colleges and institutes offer hundreds of programs and certifications. Find yours with CICan’s program finder.
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Understand the Canadian Higher Education System

Adults and high school graduates in Canada may pursue higher education—also known as post-secondary or tertiary education. Canada has two types of post-secondary schools: colleges (including institutes, cégeps and polytechnics) and universities. Cégeps are a type of public college unique to Quebec. Polytechnics are a type of public college that offer industry-specific education that meets specialized workplace requirements.

Canada has no national educational system. Schools are regulated by each province and territory. This important difference means that Canada has 13 separate post-secondary education systems. Colleges and universities recognized by their province or territory can grant qualifications like degrees, diplomas and certificates. Keep in mind that credits from a school in one province or territory may not easily transfer to a different one. In many cases, agreements among institutions exist that make credit transfer possible.

The school year in Canada is divided into two or three terms per year. Most institutions start the fall term in September. Many schools offer winter, spring or summer terms that start in January or May.

Colleges vs. universities

Both colleges and universities offer quality education that equips you with the skills to join the Canadian workforce. Colleges and institutes offer career training, employment skills and hands-on, practical experience focused on fast employability. College certificates and language training can last a few months to a year, and college diplomas take two to three years to complete. Some colleges also offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Because of their short duration, college programs can cost less than university programs, but not always. Specialized and longer-duration programs can cost more than those with fewer terms. Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) is the national organization that serves as the voice of Canada’s publicly funded colleges and institutes. You can visit their website to learn more.

Did you know?

In Canada, colleges are usually independent institutions separate from universities.

Universities typically focus on teaching theoretical information. They also provide academic and professional programs. A program at a university typically lasts three to four years for an undergraduate degree (bachelor’s) or two to four years for a graduate degree (master’s or doctorate). Universities Canada is the national organization that represents our country’s publicly funded universities. You can browse their website to learn more about studying at a university.

You will learn more about the various additional certifications you can get through a Canadian college or university later down this page.

The value of public education

Canadians have a long-standing trust in their public post-secondary school system. Unlike in many other countries, employers and society do not consider private schooling in Canada to be of higher quality than public schooling. Our public institutions rank among the top post-secondary education options in the world. Programs are recognized for their quality, high academic standards, affordability and flexible pathways to education. These factors can lead to good employment. Public colleges and universities are largely funded by provincial or territorial governments. Canada is home to many private colleges and universities that get funding from tuition, administrative fees and donations.

While tuition at private institutions is typically higher, both public and private systems charge fees for their programs. However, the government offers financial support to learners who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Some of this support includes scholarships, loans and grants. Learn more about government financial support options.


students enrolled in Canadian public universities
and colleges in the academic year of 2017–2018.

Get Insights From Other Immigrants

  • 2021 04 07 AlumniStoryViral Sagar FeaturedImage

    Viral Sagar

    Viral came to Canada in February 2020. Viral brought nine years of project management experience, as well as work experience in recruitment from India and Dubai.

    During the pandemic, we helped Viral learn about bridging programs with a mentorship component that allowed him to integrate professionally, learn about the workplace and use his previous work experience.

    He joined Cisco as a Technical Recruiter in 2021, and then took on a position as a Talent Sourcing Specialist in 2022.

  • 2021 03 24 AlumniStorySadiyaFarzeen FeaturedImage

    Sadiya Farzeen

    Sadiya immigrated from India in April 2019. She came to Canada with a background in community development and early childhood education.

    With our help, she connected with Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS). The organization helped Sadiya work on her resume, apply for a role within the organization and get an interview.

    She is an early childhood educator at ISANS. Sadiya also got her Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults.

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