According to the 2015 Asia Factor Report, Asia matters to Canada.
“Asia’s importance to Canada is clear …GDP growth in Asia remains strong and steady. Asian countries are no longer passive economic actors. Not only does Asian investment into Canada continue to increase but so does the world’s investment into Asia… it is imperative for Canada to increase its multifaceted engagement with Asia.
It is expected that by 2030, Asia will have 59% of middle class consumption and 66% of the global middle class. India’s middle class is projected to reach 475 million people by 2030, while the Chinese middle class is forecasted to hit one billion (which may account for 70% of their population in 2030).”
In other words, there is a lot of money to be made in Asia, and Canadian businesses are looking to capitalize on that!
What does this mean for you and other young Canadians?
Well, Canada’s best and brightest companies are looking at how to tap into these opportunity-rich markets, and they are recruiting people who have the skills and competencies to tackle these new and diverse markets. They are looking for people who have what’s known as, Asia Competence. According to the 2013 Canada Asia Competence Report:
60% of Canada-Asia practitioners said it is difficult to find Canadians with the appropriate level of knowledge and awareness of Asia
82% said that building Asia knowledge and expertise is the most critical component of any strategy to build closer relations with Asian countries
All of these companies are increasingly looking for young Canadian talent with Asia education, experience, or expertise but guess what? Nobody is taking advantage of this opportunity!
Only 3% of Canadian post-secondary students take advantage of study abroad opportunities & of those who go abroad, only 8 – 14% go to China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
This is such a massive problem for Canada that in 2014, the Asia Pacific Foundation held a massive conference in Calgary to address Canada’s Asia Challenge, the first-ever national conference on building a more Asia-competent Canada. This conference brought together 200 stakeholders from the private and public education and non- government sectors, as well as Canadian students and young professionals to come together to develop a plan of action on how to address this challenge.
How can a Young Canadian better Prepare?
There was a report published on how Canadians can better prepare ourselves as young people to take advantage of these new opportunities. One of them being: by “Expand[ing] young Canadians’ on-the-ground experience (through internships, study abroad, etc.) in Asia, not just in terms of quantity of participation, but also in terms of the quality of what they learn.” These internships or exchange opportunities directly address the top three qualities employees are looking for when hiring talent connected to Asia.
- Comfort working in a different/Asian culture (76%)
- Specific knowledge, expertise or skill related to the organization’s activities in Asia (69%)
- Knowledge of Asian social, economic and political trends (66%)
These types of experiences give you a distinct advantage over the competition, especially when it comes to Canada’s largest multinational organizations such as RBC, BMO, Manulife, and Sunlife which have offices all over Asia Pacific, as well as smaller small to medium size companies who are looking to expand or tap into new and unfamiliar markets.
AIESEC Canada is playing its part on trying to develop new and exciting internships with companies in Asia, and providing those opportunities to University students coast to coast right now! Sign up for more information on our internship opportunities in Asia here.