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Co-operative Education Programs: How Students and Employers Benefit

Posted on February 10 2016 | Author: Kelly Laidlaw

Co-operative (co-op) education allows students to alternate periods of academic study with periods of work experience from across several fields in both the private and public sectors. Over half of Canadian undergraduate university students participate in co-op education and internships, spanning numerous majors, and those numbers are on the rise.

Co-op education is an excellent opportunity to provide “hands on” industry experience to students before they enter the workforce on a full-time basis. Additional benefits of co-op education to students include:
 

  • Co-op students are able to test theoretical concepts that they learned in the classroom in a real-life work place setting. This provides students with a more well-rounded and realistic view of industry than academics alone can provide.
  • Co-op placements help students evaluate the suitability of their career choice before they commit to a full-time position.
  • Co-op students are able to build a network of industry contacts, learn to communicate professionally, and develop relationships with mentors.
  • Career-related experience will help to build students’ résumés, providing them with a clear competitive advantage when applying for jobs.
  • Co-op students are provided with the opportunity to learn new skills and build relationships with employers that could lead to a position post graduation.
  • Co-op education provides students with financial resources to help pay for their education, while earning credits toward their degree.
  • Co-op students are able to test skills learned in their studies, and to expand their knowledge through related work experience.

The benefits of co-op education also extends to employers, including, but not limited to:

  • Employers benefit from staying on top of new knowledge, trends and perspectives coming out of the universities.
  • Co-op students provide an infusion of bright, passionate, and enthusiastic people to the workplace. Students can bring innovative thinking to workplaces, improving business operations.
  • Co-op programs provide employers with the opportunity to meet short term staffing needs due to sick or parental leaves, vacation schedules, or transfers.
  • Existing employees get the opportunity to develop their management skills and gain the satisfaction of mentoring co-op students.
  • Co-op students can strengthen relations between academic institutions and industry.
  • Employers have year-round access to co-op employment opportunities, which can significantly reduce labour costs.
  • Co-op placements allow employers to vet and gain access to well-qualified employees upon graduation.

There are options available to help employers add a co-op student to their team. One example is the Co-operative Education Tax Credit, which is a refundable tax credit. It is available to employers who hire students enrolled in a co-operative education program at an Ontario university or college. This allows corporations to claim 25 per cent of eligible expenditures (30 per cent for small businesses), with a maximum credit of $3,000 for each work placement. For more information visit: http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/credit/cetc/.

Additional funding opportunities for Canadian co-op education programs are listed here:
https://uwaterloo.ca/hire/recruit-waterloo/financial-support#Topfundingopportunities

Bioenterprise has seen the value in participating in co-operative education programs for several years now.  In fact, we are a proud recipient of the University of Guelph’s “Co-op Employer of the Year” award. We hope to continue to support the learning goals of students who are looking for opportunities to gain experience in the agri-tech industry. In the long term, we see the importance of contributing to the increasingly productive and innovative future workforce that Canada needs to compete globally, as driven by the next generation. 

Sources:

Kelly Laidlaw
Program Manager, Corporate Relations

 






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