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Register of Canadians studying abroad.

Register of Canadians Studying Abroad

At any given time as many as 1,500 Canadian postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows may be studying and doing research in the natural sciences and engineering at universities abroad. This constitutes a sizeable pool of qualified potential employees for industry and other technology-sector employers. With the ever-increasing need for such personnel in a technologically advanced society, it is to Canada's advantage to do whatever possible to attract these persons to return home on completion of their studies abroad.

With this object in mind, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has recently undertaken the establishment of a register of Canadians studying abroad. Eligible registrants must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents who are currently pursuing higher degrees or postdoctoral experience, in the fields within NSERC's mandate, at foreign universities and institutes. The register is essentially a computer listing containing basic information on the training, areas of interest, and dates of availability for employment of registrants. Upon request, this information is made available to interested employers who have provided NSERC with the details of their requirements. Further contact between registrant and potential employer is then at the discretion of the employer; after provision of listings NSERC plays no further role in registrant-employer contact.

The nucleus of the register was established this past January, when about 500 holders of NSERC scholarships and fellowships were invited to participate. A positive response rate of about 70% resulted. Lists are now being obtained from other scholarship granting organizations, and from a number of foreign universities which were contacted for assistance. Canadian embassies in selected countries have also been notified about this initiative and asked to cooperate where possible.

An encouraging response has also resulted from advertisements placed in recent issues of Science and Nature. At the present time there are over 500 individuals included in the register and additional registrations are being received each day. Further advertisements are planned, and efforts to secure names of potential registrants from other sources are continuing.

The fields of study or research represented in the register cover a broad spectrum, with the majority (54%) concentrated in the life sciences. Mathematical and physical sciences account for about 35%, and the remainder comprise the various engineering disciplines. About 30% of the registrants included in the mathematical/physical science category belong to chemistry- related fields.

The most popular destination for students abroad seems to be the United States, with about 77% of registrants located there. Altogether, 13 countries are represented.

The second half of the system, the listing of potential employers, is now in its early stages. In late March letters were sent to about 500 industries and other organizations that participate in various NSERC programmes. All Canadian universities were also contacted. This has resulted in responses from over 80 establishments requesting listings of registrants in their areas of interest. NSERC has informed various federal government departments about the register and is in the process of informing provincial organizations. As with registrants, attempts to reach as many potential employers as possible will continue to be made.

Although still in its infancy, the register, which operates without charge to participants, appears to be a welcome initiative. Many registrants have commented on the difficulty of keeping abreast of developments in the Canadian job market. Employer clients, as well, seem to appreciate the convenience of the system for their future recruitment planning. As to its ultimate effectiveness, NSERC must rely on feedback from the users. Certainly it is hoped that a fully operational system will have the effect of responding to the needs of both Canadian employers and the many Canadian students abroad who would like to put their talents to work for the benefit of their home country. EILEEN GARVEY

Scholarships and International Programmes Directorate, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Ottawa
COPYRIGHT 1989 Chemical Institute of Canada
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Garvey, Eileen
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Date:Jul 1, 1989
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