Labour Report sheds light on where graduates find work in bio-economy

OTTAWA, December 16, 2020 – BioTalent Canada today released new findings from its most recent bio-economy Labour Market Information (LMI) study. This new brief—Academic Bonds: Examining the ties that bind STEM grads to their schools—reveals that few biotech graduates choose to relocate to find employment, with most seeking employment close to where they studied. There are several factors at play, notably that employers located close to a post-secondary institution can engage and form relationships with the students before graduation.

More than 90 per cent of graduates from the West, Ontario, and Quebec regions remain in their locations on average three years after graduation. Atlantic Canada is the exception. Only 70 per cent of graduates remain in that region which creates a challenge for their bio-economy employers as they face competition for talent from elsewhere.

“Atlantic Canada has always faced stiff competition for its talent,” says Rob Henderson, President and CEO of BioTalent Canada. “But challenges present opportunities. This brief reveals some recommendations for the bio-economy that, if executed, could help the Atlantic-region improve its talent retention rate.”

Another area that will require attention is finding ways to ensure graduates from the physical and life sciences and technologies remain in the industry. More than 40% of biotech grads indicated that their current employment was “not at all” related to what they studied. A contributing factor may be the median employment income which has stagnated among graduates between 2010 and 2015. This means that earning potential right out of the gate is higher elsewhere.

The data for this brief was collected from an analysis of Statistics Canada’s National Graduate Survey (NGS) and Education and Labour Market Longitudinal Platform (ELMLP). The results indicate several things.

  1. Graduate relocation—or lack thereof in most cases—presents challenges and opportunities for the bio-economy.
  2. Employers, post-secondary institutions, and associations must make students aware of the opportunities and resources that exist prior to graduation.
  3. Engaging graduates from closely aligned fields of biological/biomedical science programs must be undertaken to lower the underemployment rates within this group.

“The bio-economy is growing at an accelerated rate in Canada and the pipeline of talent generated every year by our post-secondary education institutions is second to none,” adds Henderson.
“Labour Market Information studies like ours will help create a roadmap to sustainable growth in the sector. We are creating greater awareness among employers, students, and graduates of wage subsidy programs like BioTalent Canada’s Student Work Placement Program, Career Starter, and Science Horizons Youth Internship Program as a good place to start.”

BioTalent Canada wage subsidies have helped shape the future of Canadian bio-economy since 2005. More than 4,000 Canadians have started their careers through BioTalent Canada programs.

BioTalent Canada will publish three additional research briefs in advance of the full LMI release in 2021. The organization plans to produce 11 in-depths reports next year, including nine LMI regional and national reports, a report on “hot jobs”, and a talent supply report. For more details on the study please visit


Funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program. 

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About BioTalent Canada
BioTalent Canada™ is the HR partner of and catalyst for growth in Canada’s bio-economy. Our engagement with employers, associations, post-secondary institutions, immigrant serving agencies and service providers has built a dynamic network that is strengthening skills, connecting job-ready talent to industry and creating opportunities. Recently awarded a Great Place to Work® Certification, BioTalent Canada practices the same industry standards they recommend to their stakeholders.

Recently, BioTalent Canada was named one of Best Workplaces in Ontario for 2020 and Best Workplaces in Healthcare. These distinctions were awarded to BioTalent Canada following a thorough and independent analysis conducted by Great Place to Work®. Direct feedback from employees was provided to Great Place to Work® through a staff survey.

Employers wishing to provide expertise in future studies are invited to contact BioTalent Canada Project Manager Adriana Saenz.

For more information, please visit

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Siobhan Williams
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