The Ontario Graduate Certificate has been bridging employability gaps for more than three decades, attracting domestic and international students into career-focused credentials that catapult them into the workforce. In the early 1990s, Humber was the first college to offer graduate certificates to university graduates who were looking for specific, job-related training after completing an undergraduate degree. At that time, growth was driven by domestic demand for education with direct links to industry through work-integrated learning opportunities.
Officially recognized as the Ontario Graduate Certificate through the Ontario Qualifications Framework, these credentials have been the fastest growing in the province with a strong attraction for international students in recent years as they look for viable pathways to careers in Canada.
However, the road to employment post-graduation is not always easy, with international students facing unique barriers and challenges compared to their domestic counterparts.
At Humber’s newest campus, the International Graduate School (IGS) in downtown Toronto, the focus is on supporting these learners on this journey.
Despite having lived in the country for a period of time, it can be challenging for international learners to build the social and cultural capital required to succeed in the local labour market as employers often seek graduates who understand the local work culture and will transition easily into the workplace.
When international and Canadian students with similar demographics, educational qualifications and pre-graduation work experience are compared, international students earn less than their Canadian counterparts six years after graduation. A key focus in the development of the IGS has been understanding these barriers and challenges and narrowing the gaps in employment outcomes for international graduates.
Through the Industry and Community Engagement Hub (ICHub), highly qualified and motivated learners are supported through meaningful career-oriented learning opportunities. Working closely with industry and community partners to develop a better understanding of the challenges faced by international learners, programming is purpose-built to support learners to prepare them for the world of work in Canada.
The Career Mentorship Program is one example of a targeted program for IGS learners that helps them to build their social network and gain a better understanding of the workplace culture in their chosen profession. Since the launch of the program in Winter 2022, more than two hundred matches have been made between students and industry partners enabling them to build connections leading to internships and post-graduate work opportunities. This program helps international learners build social and cultural capital easing their transition to viable employment post-graduation. The Community and Industry Engagement course is another example of programming designed specifically for IGS semester one students, providing them with core competencies to help them excel in their chosen profession. Built around the Humber Learning Outcomes, the course provides students with opportunities to build competencies in Design Thinking, Systems Thinking, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion along with Critical Thinking and a number of additional skills in action. With these and other supports, IGS learners are graduating from Humber having built upon the skills and expertise they acquired in their home country prepared for the world of work in Canada.
More than three decades following the launch of the first Ontario Graduate Certificate, Humber continues to innovate to meet the needs of learners. Today the graduate certificate continues to play a critical role as we work together across the province to meet labour market shortages and future demands, vital for the growth of the Ontario economy and the future of Canada.
Diane Simpson, Ph.D.,
Principal, International Graduate School