Travel restrictions and a shift to online learning has dramatically cut the number of international students expected to attend Canadian universities and colleges this fall, and the decline will ripple through Canada’s labor market. New study permits for foreign students issued by Canada fell by 22.3% in the second quarter of 2020 compared with the same period of 2019, amid strict COVID-19 border controls that have blocked many new foreign students from entering Canada. [nL1N2GB0QN] While fall semester enrollment is not yet finalized, Canadian schools are expecting a “significant” drop in international students, according to their advocacy groups, which will slash billions from college and university revenues.The decline will also have a ripple effect through the private sector, said Denise Amyot, chief executive of Colleges and Institutes Canada. “A lot of SMEs (small, medium enterprises) are worried because often those international students are enrolled into fields where they are less domestic students,” she said.This means a potential labor shortage for some employers, with fewer students in the near-term for work placements and internships, and then a longer-term dip in new graduates entering the labor force. Canada’s unemployment rate was near a 40-year-low before the pandemic. While some 3 million jobs were lost at the height of the lockdowns, some two-thirds have since been recouped. [nL1N2G10H7]Many foreign students go into in-demand sectors like health services, business administration, mining and manufacturing, and information technology, along with emerging technologies, say educators. The problem is particularly pressing in rural or remote regions of Canada, where the workforce is rapidly aging and young people tend to leave for major urban centers. “Immigration and international students are a key part of our population growth strategy in Atlantic Canada,” said Joel Richardson, spokesman for Cooke Aquaculture, a fast-growing Canadian seafood producer with operations in 10 countries.The company was already struggling with a labor gap before restrictions shut the border. Now it has about 100 domestic job openings, and is facing the added strain of less international students on local campuses who it typically hires after graduation for office and skilled labor roles.