Post-secondary students at 16 colleges, institutes and universities throughout British Columbia will benefit from an investment of $1.3 million to raise awareness of the benefits of work experience among employers and students.
“Co-op programs provide post-secondary students with opportunities to apply their learning and gain valuable skills that are relevant for their future line of work,” said Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson. “The investment of $1.3 million by our government will encourage more post-secondary students and employers to take advantage of co-op education opportunities.”
Each of the 16 public post-secondary institutions will receive $75,000 to support outreach to more employers and increase awareness of the benefits of co-op placements for both employers and students. The Association for Co-operative Education BC/Yukon (ACE) will receive $100,000. The non-profit organization works with public post-secondary institutions in B.C. that offer co-operative education programs.
“Co-op education provides invaluable experiences that help students develop the critical knowledge and skill sets they will need for future career success,” said Claudia Sperling, ACE president. “The funding provided by the B.C. government will enable post-secondary institutions to continue the work of promoting the benefits of co-op for both students and employers.”
Public post-secondary institutions in B.C. provide more than 150 different co-op programs. Programs combine academic studies with paid experience in career-related fields and provide students with opportunities to gain on-the-job skills and make connections with employers.
“The experience I gained during my co-op placements at the Centre for Microbial Diseases and Immunity Research and the BC Cancer Agency has been invaluable,” said Paul Kim, University of Victoria student and ACE co-op student of year, university category. “These opportunities are helping me to get closer to achieving my goal of making an impact in health care and medicine.”
Employers benefit from the energy, fresh ideas, knowledge and skills of co-op students. Co-op placements also provide employers with the opportunity to assess new talent for recruitment after graduation.
The funding announced today builds on a $1.3-million investment in co-op education in 2015-16 for a total investment of $2.6 million.
Government support for co-operative education aligns with commitments in the BC Jobs Plan, #BCTECH Strategy and B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint. Co-op programs are offered across many sectors, including programs that lead to a range of occupations needed in the technology sector.
The #BCTECH Strategy is a key component of the BC Jobs Plan to support the growth of British Columbia's vibrant technology sector and strengthens B.C.'s diverse innovation economy. The multi-year strategy includes a $100-million #BCTECH Fund and initiatives to increase talent development through more tech-related grads, co-ops and coding, as well as data innovation and market access for tech companies to drive innovation and productivity throughout the province.
- There will be nearly one million job openings in B.C. through to 2025.
- Approximately 42% of job openings will require college education or apprenticeship training.
- 36% will require university and/or significant work experience.
- 18% will require high school and/or occupation-specific training.
- The Association for Co-operative Education BC/Yukon: http://www.co-op.bc.ca/
- BC Jobs Plan: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/bcjobsplan/
- #BCTECH Strategy: https://bctechstrategy.gov.bc.ca/
- BC’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: https://www.workbc.ca/getmedia/4c54646a-93fa-4566-b148-f43a3f27b240/Booklet_BCsBlueprint_web_140428.pdf.aspx
A backgrounder follows.