Canada has announced youth mobility arrangements with both South Korea and Finland that the government says will provide reciprocal opportunities for young people to work and travel in one another’s country.
Participants from Canada, Finland and South Korea will be able to join the International Experience Canada program or the Finnish or South Korean equivalent programs. The two agreements are expected to come into force in 2024.
While improving labour market access, the deals will also build on the countries’ people-to-people ties while, according to leaders.
On May 23, minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship in Canada Sean Fraser said the government is continuing to “support and create” reciprocal arrangements for Canadian and international youth overseas.
“Canadian and South Korean youth will have more opportunities to live, travel and work abroad for longer than ever before, and Canadian employers will have a bigger talent pool to find the workers they need,” he said. Days prior to this he highlighted that the program with Finland will have the similar benefits.
The age eligibility for the Korea-Canada initiative has been raised from 30 year olds under an existing agreement to 35 year olds under the new one.
Two streams – International Co-op (Internship) and Young Professionals – will be added to the existing Working Holiday category, and most youth will be able to participate twice in the program, each time for up to 24 months, the partners added.
“Canada is one of Korea’s closest partners because of the two countries’ shared values and interests,” Park Jin, Korea’s minister of Foreign Affairs, said, describing the program as a “remarkable milestone”.
“I am hopeful that it will give future generations who will lead Korea–Canada relations for the next 60 years the opportunity to directly experience and gain a better understanding of each other’s country.”
The same categories are available under the agreement with Finland, and participants will be able join for up to 12 months per category.
Finnish minister of Employment, Tuula Haatainen, agreed that the plan will deepen ties “between our already close countries”.
“The youth of both Finland and Canada will have even more opportunities”
“The youth of both Finland and Canada will have even more opportunities to travel, work abroad and learn of each other’s cultures in the future,” Haatainen said.
The agreements come shortly after IRCC minister Sean Fraser met with Alfred N. Mutua, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affair on May 18. The pair discussed “the tremendous economic, cultural and social benefits that Kenyans bring when they choose to immigrate to Canada”.
Universities Canada said the youth mobility agreements with the two countries complement the outbound Global Skills Opportunity pilot, funded through Employment and Social Development Canada and administered by Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada.
The GSO, launched in 2021, has “funded nearly 5,000 mobility opportunities to date, with plans to engage thousands more students before the end of the pilot in 2025”, Graham Barber, assistant director, international relations for Universities Canada, said.
“GSO students have already been traveling to South Korea and Finland, but they can now access these youth mobility agreements in addition to the GSO funding to travel abroad and return with skills and connections in other countries, building people-to-people ties and bolstering trade and collaboration across borders.”
The organisation also encourages the Canadian government to implement new opportunities though similar agreements, particularly with partners across Asia.
“The Canada in Asia conference, co-organised by Universities Canada and the Asia Pacific Foundation, opened opportunities for Canadian students in the ASEAN region, including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, and we encourage the federal government to sign agreements with these regional partners,” Barber added.
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