Canada has a diverse economy and a high standard of living so it’s no surprise that graduates are attracted to the country when starting their careers

While seasonal jobs are plentiful in the tourism and hospitality sectors, to find a permanent, full-time job you may have more success if you stick to the metropolitan cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

In your free time you’ll be able to take advantage of the country’s beautiful scenery, from the mountains of British Columbia to the lakes of Ontario and not forgetting Niagara Falls on the boarder of Ontario and New York.

Job market in Canada

Canada is one of the richest nations in the world due in part to the country’s on-going trade agreements with the USA and Mexico.

Major industries in Canada include:

  • manufacturing including aerospace technology, cars, clothing, food and paper and wood products;
  • service industries such as banking, construction, education, healthcare, retail, transport and tourism;
  • natural resources like agriculture, forestry, energy and mining.

Unsurprisingly Canada is the world’s largest producer of maple syrup, with the majority of the world’s supply being produced in Quebec.

While foreign workers are actively sought to grow the national workforce, the graduate labour market remains competitive so to ensure success in your job search you’ll need to make sure that you have the right combination of skills and experience.

According to the Labour Force Survey July 2015, by Statistics Canada, the overall unemployment rate stands at 6.8%. Employment in Quebec and Nova Scotia has risen compared with the previous 12 months, while in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island employment has declined. Employment in Ontario remains largely unchanged.

Thriving metropolitan areas in the country include:

  • Calgary;
  • Edmonton;
  • Montreal;
  • Ottawa;
  • Toronto.

The survey showed an increase of workers in the professional, scientific and technical services and public administration while it reported a decrease in insurance and finance.

Job vacancies

Jobs are advertised online and in newspapers. Networking is also a useful way to find out about vacancies in Canada.

Start your Canadian job search at:

Teaching in Canada

If you’re proficient in English, have a degree and some practical teaching experience you could teach English as a second language.

As English is one of Canada’s official languages demand for English teachers is relatively low, however, there are jobs available but expect competition for positions to be fierce.

A useful network for this kind of work is the TESL Canada Federation. There are also opportunities with Teach English in Canada.

Internships and work experience in Canada

Completing an internship or work placement can be an excellent way to find a permanent role and prove your skills to potential employers. To qualify for work experience you will need to secure the relevant work permit and visa (see Canadian visas and immigration).

When searching for an internship helpful websites include:

  • AIESEC UK – an organisation present in 110 countries, including Canada. Take part in its GoGlobal programme for placements between six to 18 months in sectors such as finance, IT, marketing and teaching;
  • BUNAC’s Work Canada – aimed at British passport holders aged 18 to 30. You can work in Canada for up to two years.

International companies may also offer internships, check the websites of organisations that you’d like to work for.

Volunteering in Canada

Opportunities are available in Canada but if you’re heading over to the country to give your time to a cause you’ll need to make sure you have the appropriate visa.

The national body for volunteering is Volunteer Canada, where you can search for projects and learn about the importance of volunteering.

Language requirements

Canada is a bilingual country with two official languages (English and French) and while knowledge of both languages isn’t essential, it will certainly give you an edge in your job search.

While French is more widely spoken in the Quebec province, you can still expect to hear both languages on a regular basis no matter where you live or work.

Certain employers may require you to prove your proficiency in either English or French depending on the job you’ve applied for.

Canadian visas and immigration

British citizens do not need a visa to enter Canada but must obtain Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) to travel to Canada by air.

If you wish to work in the country you will need the correct work permit. Although in some cases it is possible to apply for a work permit after you arrive in Canada, it is strongly advised that you do so before you leave your home country.

If you plan to work in Canada for a maximum of four years you can apply for a temporary work permit. You’ll usually need a written job offer or contract from your employer, as well as evidence that you meet the requirements of the job.

If you intend to work in Canada for more than four years you’ll need to get permanent residency. If this is the case there are different immigration programmes you can apply to. To qualify for permanent residency you must meet certain criteria based on:

  • age;
  • nationality;
  • education;
  • language ability;
  • arranged employment;
  • income/net worth;
  • work experience.

Rules can change without warning so check with your local Canadian embassy to find out more.

For more information on visas and work permits see the Government of Canada – Work in Canada.

How to explain your UK qualifications to employers

Your qualifications will usually be well recognised by employers as the structure of higher education in Canada closely resembles that in the UK. However, check your qualifications with potential employers before applying.

If your chosen job is regulated you will need to get your qualifications assessed by the provincial or territorial regulatory authority, if your job isn’t regulated recognition of qualifications is usually at the discretion of the employer.

For more information see the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials.

Working conditions

Standard hours of work are eight a day or 40 a week, Monday to Friday. The maximum amount of hours you can work in a week is usually 48.

After completing one year of employment you are entitled to a minimum of two weeks annual leave and nine paid ‘general holidays’ including:

  • New Years day;
  • Good Friday;
  • Victoria day;
  • Canada day;
  • Labour day;
  • Thanksgiving;
  • Remembrance day;
  • Christmas day;
  • Boxing day.

Minimum wages are set by each province or territory. For more information on working conditions see the Government of Canada – Federal Labour Standards.