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VideoCast Episode 1: Welcome to Study and Work in Canada

In this podcast, through interviews with subject matter experts and international students, host Tamsin Plaxton provides answers to questions prospective international students have about opportunities to study and work in Canada. Get valuable information and tips about career training and immigration opportunities in Canada and how to qualify for and fund your studies in Canada. Join us for deep conversations with experts, and current students and graduates of Tamwood Careers College‘s work and study programs.

– Hi, I’m Tamsin Plaxton. Welcome to Study and Work in Canada. This podcast is geared towards international students who are thinking about coming to Canada for a study and work program. Study and work is the hot thing in Canada right now for international students. Canada has made it quite accessible for students who are here on study permits to further their education in Canada, and also work while they’re in Canada to gain valuable work experience. I am excited to be able to host this show and share, with our listeners, useful information about how to select an institution in Canada, what kind of programs exist at various institutions across Canada, what the opportunities are for working in Canada, and what you should expect as an international student in Canada. I, myself work in the field of international education in Canada. I’m the Founder of Tamwood International. It’s a group of companies in Canada that operate language schools, career colleges, summer camps for internationals, and also a work in travel company called GO International.

I started this business almost 30 years ago with a business partner. And we started it as an international summer camp business for kids. But over the years, we saw interests grow in other areas, and we expanded into teaching adults and we taught English. And we did an English and Work program for a while. And then we expanded into work and travel.

 And then in 2013, we added our first career college. And since then, that’s just taken off, and demand for higher education in Canada from overseas has really exploded. And with that, the demand for “Work and Study in Canada”. I, myself had an experience of working over overseas when I was a student. I didn’t study abroad, but I did a lot of work experience abroad. 

From the time I was 18 I started traveling overseas. I even left high school early to do an internet national tour of Europe. And then I came back to Canada to start my education university. In my summer holidays I would take opportunities to go and work abroad. And then I had the chance to work in Australia. I worked in France as a bicycle tour guide. And I worked in Switzerland as a summer camp counselor. It was that experience actually that put me on my path to what is now Tamwood. 

So I personally am a fan and a convert, and a true believer in the power and value of international work experience. And combining that with education is even more powerful. So what do I mean when I talk about work and study in Canada? What does that mean? Well, in Canada, if you are studying at an institution, at a post-secondary level, that means not high school, but if you come after secondary school or after high school to Canada for education at either a college or a university, if you’re on a study permit you’re allowed to work part-time while you study.

 The Canadian government does not want international students investing in education here and not being able to support themselves. So right off the bat, in any program at a post-secondary level, that’s six months or longer, students are allowed to work while they study. So most diplomas and degrees at post-secondary institutions are over six months. So, almost everyone coming from overseas for a diploma or degree is going to need a study permit. And that study permit is going to say that they’re allowed to work off campus for up to 20 hours a week while they study. 

But in addition to that some programs have a mandatory work component. And that could be something we call co-op work, which is short for cooperative education. Which means institutions cooperate with employers in the sector that the student is studying in to allow students to gain knowledge and skills in the field through work experience. So it’s work integrated learning, is another way to look at it. We know now that you can learn something in a classroom and you’ll get a certain level of education in the classroom, but you can really enhance your learning if you take that knowledge that you’re gaining in the classroom and apply it in a real world setting through work experience. So a lot of institutions in Canada have created what we call co-op or work integrated learning programs. Now co-op typically is understood to be a program where you are doing paid work. So you would perhaps do a semester in school, in classes, and then a semester in a company. This has been something Canada has offered for years. 

When I was a student, I think Canada was just getting into co-op education. And I remember one of the first institutions to do that was a university in Waterloo that offered a co-op engineering program. And students would do a semester in school and then a semester with an employer. And that applied learning seemed to work really well in engineering. But now over the years, it’s expanded into all fields. So not just engineering. You can do co-op education in business. You can do it in hospitality and tourism. You can do it in digital skills. You can do it in IT management. Pretty much every field of study there’s an opportunity to find a co-op education program. And typically at a level that we call private post-secondary, so that would be colleges or private universities, a lot of the programs will actually design it to be 50 50, study and work.

So if you study for say 480 hours over the course of maybe six months, then you can do another 480 hours in your co-op term, in your work term of work. So that might be completed on a full-time basis, and you would complete it say in 24 weeks. or you might stretch those 480 hours over a longer period, say six months. But typically, in the provinces across Canada, institutions are not allowed to offer more hours in the work term than the student takes in their study term, especially when it’s unpaid. So in the case of unpaid work in British Columbia, in one of the provinces of Canada called British Columbia, if a program includes an unpaid term it’s usually referred to not as a co-op term, but as a practicum. The purpose of that would be to gain some sort of exposure, but not necessarily are you taking on a role that a Canadian would take on. It’s usually what we think of as an internship or a traineeship, otherwise referred to as a practicum. So sometimes traineeship, sometimes practicum. And that’s typically unpaid, and in British Columbia that wouldn’t be allowed to fill more than 20% of the total program duration. So, you could do a short internship practicum on a very longer program. And the value of that is that you’re getting to go into a company and explore what that company does. Usually shadow someone and participate in some meetings or activities, but obviously you’re not taking on a full time role in the organization. So that’s the difference. We think about practicum or internships as unpaid typically, although not always, and some internships are paid. And then typically, the word co-op education is more referencing a paid work experience opportunity with a Canadian company. 

And certainly at Tamwood, the company that I’m one of the owners of, we’ve seen very high interest in our paid co-op programs. And most of the paid work and study programs we offer are structured in a 50 50 structure. So typically, the students would do six months of study, 20 hours a week. And while they’re studying, they can work because the study permit says you’re allowed to work part-time while you study. We don’t want students not being able to support themselves while they’re here. So, they’re allowed to work and it doesn’t have to be work related to what they’re studying. It’s just work to support themselves while they’re going to school. But in their second term, which we call the co-op term or the cooperative education term, they definitely have to work. It’s not an option. It’s always an option to work in your first semester when you’re studying, Nobody requires it. It’s an option you have, and most students wanna take that option. But in the second term, the work is required. It’s a necessary part of your program. 

In order to graduate you have to complete this co-op education. And our college, like all the colleges, works with students to help them find co-op opportunity, a work placement that is gonna give them the opportunity to learn the skills and knowledge that the program is teaching. So typically, it’s going to be a placement that gives them skills, opportunities, work exposure in their field or in the specific job skills that we’re teaching. So if you’re taking digital marketing you wouldn’t necessarily be placed in a digital marketing agency, but you might be placed in a food food manufacturing company that has a marketing department. And you’d be working on digital marketing activities for that company. So that’s an example of the type of work placement that would give you the experience in what you’re learning in the skills and knowledge but not in a specific industry necessarily. It could be in a variety of industries. So typically, what we see is students coming into the work and study programs are aging up. Initially, when we started these programs we were seeing students right out of high school. 

Now what we’re seeing is continue to get some students in these programs right out of high school. But a lot of them are students who have studied and worked overseas. Maybe reached a sort of a plateau in their career at home, and they wanna jump to the next level, or they wanna do something just totally different. And rather than going back to school at home where they’re from, they wanna use this opportunity to either up-skill or retrain overseas to get not just the education that you need, but to combine that with an international experience. And more importantly, to get international work experience. Because certainly, in the employment world somebody who comes to an employer looking for work, who has, you know, domestic experience but has also studied abroad and worked abroad, they bring something new to that workplace. They can bring new perspectives, international connections, better international language skills, you know, intercultural skills. So usually that experience, that international experience is highly valued. So it’s a great benefit to do this international work experience, and study and work experience. So that’s typically what we see. 

The profile is typically 25 to 35, or maybe 23 to 35 years of age, but it’s not a necessity. Most institutions are looking for students who have a high school graduation and a certain level of English, because the programs are taught in English in most cases. In Canada we have two official languages. And in the province of Quebec some of our institutions are teaching in French. So if you were wanting to do a work and study program in Quebec, then you would have to establish a level of English and French to gain admission to the program. But the admission requirements, certainly at the private post-secondary level and especially at the college level, are usually not that onerous. They’re not that difficult to reach. It could be an English level at sort of a high intermediate level on the IELTS exam scale. That would be an IELTS level of 0.5 0.0 or 5.5 for most of the programs and then a high school education. It’s rare that we ask for any further education at this level.

One of the other big advantages of doing a work and study program at a Canadian institution right now is that Canada has a very aggressive immigration strategy. Canada’s looking for more immigrants. And we’re looking for skilled people to come to our country. And certainly in a lot of areas of work in Canada, there’s a huge labor shortage. You know, IT is a good example at this point. There’s a massive shortage of skilled workers in IT and in digital skills. As a result, there’s opportunities for students to get sponsored employment in Canada. But even if the program you take doesn’t lead to sponsored employment, it can qualify you through different immigration programs for immigration, because Canada values having Canadian education and Canadian work experience. And so, you know, under a point system the Canadian government gives points to immigrants who can show that they’ve completed some post-secondary education in Canada. 

So in this podcast, we’re gonna get into all of these topics in more detail. There’s gonna be episodes where we’re gonna dive into what are the immigration programs that are most widely used by international students, and how would you use education and work experience in Canada to qualify for those immigration programs. We’re also gonna get into the type of work experience that’s available to co-op students, and what does it look like to work for a Canadian company. 

So join us, follow along, stay tuned, listen in on all the upcoming episodes. And I look forward to sharing with you more about this wonderful opportunity for Work and Study in Canada. Until next time! That’s all for this week’s episode of “Work and Study in Canada”, brought to you by Tamwood Careers. Tamwood is a private education company operating career colleges in Toronto, Vancouver and Whistler, Canada. 

Tamwood offers popular work and study programs in fields like business, hospitality and tourism, digital marketing, web design, UX, UI, and entrepreneurship. International students who study with Tamwood gain valuable work experience in Canada and start on a pathway to a successful career and immigration in Canada. 

If you’d like more information about Tamwood and its programs, visit our website, www.tamwood.com. You can also check out our videos on YouTube, and connect with us on social at Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.