by Gloria Welton
How do we encourage international students to stay on PEI after they graduate? How do we help them achieve their goals and succeed here on PEI?
The Atlantic Student Development Alliance (ASDA) is tackling these issues by providing international undergraduate students and graduates with soft skills and industry-based training, resources, and networks to help them transition into, and become active participants in the labour market.
“We also offer Equity Diversity and Inclusion training and consultation,” says Daniel Ohaegbu, a UPEI graduate and international student who founded the ASDA. “As we provide employers with a diverse group of talents, we also offer them workplace EDI training to ensure and support employers towards recruiting, managing and maintaining an equitable workforce.
“My colleagues at ASDA, who are also recent graduates, understand the experiences and challenges of being international students,” says Daniel. “We don’t want other students to experience the same challenges that we did.
“There are labour market shortages, especially in Atlantic Canada, and employers are looking for graduates. At the same time, we see skilled international students leaving the region or working odd jobs even after they have a degree.”
ASDA aims to bridge the disconnection gap between employers and international students by providing employers with skilled and well-qualified candidates.
More than 75 international students who are studying at Holland College and UPEI are now connected to ASDA, which offers resources and information through virtual networking events, coaching, workshops, training, and needs assessments.
Three pillars of support
- The Peer Mentor/Networking program helps students develop connections and networks and build relationships beyond the people they already know.
- The Easy Learn program focuses on training, workshops, and coaching.
- The Connections program encourages employers to offer volunteer opportunities, internships and job connections. “We understand that international students may not have the experience or the skills, so volunteering and internships help to familiarize them with the industries here and help them make connections and develop skills employers need.”
Daniel says they are also reaching out to first-year, second-year and third-year students to help them develop the skills they need.