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Supporting immigration

Economic ideas lab, English language testing site announced

Campus and Community

By Melanie Callahan

Gerry Byrne, minister of Immigration, Skills and Labour, announced more than $700,000 this week to further support immigration at the College of the North Atlantic (CNA) and Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus.

From left are Sharon McLennon, Liz Kidd, Minister Gerry Byrne, MHA Scott Reid and Dr. Jeff Keshen.
Photo: Submitted

With assistance from the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Market Development Agreement, an investment of $600,000 over two years will establish an Economic Immigration Ideas Lab, located at the Newfoundland and Labrador Workforce Innovation Centre, administered by CNA from its Corner Brook campus.

The lab will bring together leaders in communities, business, labour and post-secondary education to incubate new approaches to increase immigration.

The provincial government is also investing more than $100,000 to ensure newcomers to western Newfoundland and Labrador are able to complete required English language testing.

This funding will enable Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus to become a designated Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) testing site.

‘Often want to stay’

Minister Byrne says successful immigration initiatives rely on collaboration between government and community partners.

He also says that the Economic Immigration Ideas Lab at College will help ensure innovative ideas based on the unique experience of leaders in Newfoundland and Labrador are brought to the forefront and, similarly, building English language testing capability is a “smart investment” to ensure newcomers to the western region are able to complete more of the immigration process close to home.

“Newcomers who study at CNA Corner Brook and the Memorial University Grenfell Campus get to experience the beauty, excitement and joy of living in one of the most beautiful corners of the world – and they often want to stay,” he said.

Dr. Jeff Keshen, vice-president (Grenfell Campus), says supporting internationalization is of “utmost importance” for the region and the province.

“Over the past decade the number of international students at Grenfell Campus has grown more than four-fold,” he said. “This new testing site will give us agency to strengthen international growth in our region and throughout the province, and will uphold our goal to sustain overall enrolment, enhance diversity and help attract and produce highly educated and skilled newcomers for Newfoundland and Labrador.”

‘Beautiful, safe and welcoming’

According to a report prepared for Atlantic Canada’s ministers of education, Memorial University’s international enrolments account for 13 per cent of the total in Atlantic Canada.

Meanwhile, Canadian universities and colleges capture about five per cent of the world market for internationally mobile students.

“In Newfoundland and Labrador, we capture only one per cent of the Canadian market,” Dr. Keshen said. “This clearly indicates there is room for growth, and we are working diligently to share our beautiful, safe and welcoming environment, and increase the richness and cultural diversity of our city and region.”

Despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the provincial government continues to plan for future growth and to meet the 2022 target of increasing immigration to 2,500 new permanent residents annually, subject to the established COVID-19 special measures orders and guidelines.

Liz Kidd, president and CEO, College of the North Atlantic, says that the College of the North Atlantic has seen a “tremendous” growth in its international student population over the past several years said Liz Kidd.

“These students have contributed immensely to our campuses and our communities, whether it is culturally or with their ideas, enthusiasm and participation in the workforce,” Ms. Kidd said. “We are confident the Economic Immigration Ideas Lab is another way we can cultivate an environment that is more attractive in retaining them once they graduate. We appreciate every opportunity to work with the province to make this a success.”

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