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Labour market imbalance: Why international students in K-W are struggling to find jobs

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Over 700 people attended a job fair at Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Kitchener Tuesday afternoon, the majority of them, international students.

“We usually see maybe 200 or 300 people but today we're all surprised to see this high number. Everyone is looking for a job,” said Annie Peltea, operations manager of Jobs Canada Fair.

Some international students in attendance told CTV News they’ve applied for hundreds of jobs in the past week and are struggling to find work.

Since 2014, University of Waterloo has seen a 62 per cent increase in international student growth. Wilfrid Laurier University has seen a 66 per cent increase and Conestoga College has experienced a 1,579 per cent increase.

“The influx of students has really put pressure on the need for part time work,” said Charlene Hofbauer, executive direction of Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo Wellington Dufferin.

“We have talked a lot to employers over the years about the need for part time work, but employers do have timelines and requirements of productivity goals. So I think this is going to be an ongoing struggle.”

According to findyourjob.ca, there were 10,474 active job postings in August 2023. Half of all its users were seeking part-time work but only 20 per cent of the jobs posted on its website are part-time (2,043).

Auto retail company Kal Tire was in attendance at the Kitchener job fair. It’s adjusting hiring practices to accommodate the growing demographic of international students in Waterloo region with limited availability.

“We found that opening up our doors to part time team members has allowed us to gain a lot more applicants because we had some troubles hiring in the past,” said Tiffany Woodley, Kal Tire Waterloo manager.

However the part-time jobs they have available are extremely competitive.

“Right now we're hiring for about 10 positions. That being said there were about 700 people that signed up for this job fair today,” said Woodley.

Labour experts at Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo Wellington Dufferin are encouraging international students to volunteer to build their people skills.

“From the international student perspective, in the Canadian economy, we really look for people skills. Sometimes those don't show up on resumes. So yes, your technical skills are wonderful, but then talk about how you can relate to people. You can talk about how the goals that you have done affect people or how you created better teams out of that,” said Hofbauer.

 Details for the next Kitchener job fair can be found here.

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