FREDERICTON (GNB) – The most recent cohort of graduates from the Atlantic Canada Study and Stay program have received diplomas and more than half have already secured jobs in New Brunswick.

Arlene Dunn, minister responsible for Opportunities NB and minister responsible for immigration, congratulated the students during a virtual graduation ceremony for overcoming obstacles, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We trust that with the determination you have shown during this period, you will be successful in finding work here,” said Dunn. “Through the Study and Stay program, you have been provided with the tools and resources to work, live and thrive in New Brunswick.”

The program, funded by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, is for international students who are committed to living and working in Atlantic Canada. It provides skills, connections and support essential to ensuring students can launch successful careers upon graduation.

Program participant Leonardo Silva, who is originally from Brazil, said the program introduced him to important contacts who provided him with the knowledge and tools he needed to grow and establish himself in New Brunswick.

“The support throughout the program helped me to make the decision to stay in New Brunswick and choose the best immigration pathway for my family,” Silva said. “I just have to thank the Study and Stay program and its staff for all the support given to make us feel welcomed and supported through our journey.”

Each year there are as many as 60 international students enrolled and more than 30 community mentors who support the participants’ professional learning goals. This year’s class included 64 graduates in fields of study such as computer science and information technology, finance, engineering, environmental studies and business administration.

More than half of this year’s cohort have already secured jobs in New Brunswick, which is a meaningful contribution to the province’s population growth and economic growth strategies.

“We know we have something special here in New Brunswick,” said Dunn. “Statistics Canada data recently confirmed that more than 3,500 people from elsewhere in Canada moved to our province between January and March of this year, the highest in-migration numbers since 1975. The more people we can have settle in New Brunswick, the more robust, diverse and inclusive our future will be.”