Post-secondary students throughout British Columbia will get better opportunities to take part in co-op and other work-integrated learning opportunities.
These opportunities are a result of almost $1.9 million in funding provided to all of B.C.’s 25 public universities, colleges and institutes. Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, made the announcement during a visit to SAP Labs Canada in Vancouver, where 175 co-op students and interns are working.
“Work-integrated learning gives students the opportunities to build the best future for themselves and their families,” said Mark. “These co-op opportunities allow students to apply what they learn in the classroom in the real world. Employers get the chance to identify new talent and benefit from the fresh ideas and energy students bring.”
Public post-secondary institutions will use these funds to support outreach to more employers, increase awareness of the benefits of work-integrated learning to employers and students, and improve their capacity to place students in meaningful workplace-based learning opportunities.
“Co-op education and integrated learning provide students with the opportunity to develop new skills and valuable work experience that will help them excel in the workplace,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trades and Technology. “Co-op education also provides immense benefit to employers, who get assistance meeting their service and production needs from promising new talent.”
Co-op education is the best-known and most-formalized method of work-integrated learning. It combines academic studies with paid work experience in career-related fields. Other forms of work-integrated learning include internships, practicums and applied research projects.
The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) has several students in tech programs. These students are benefiting from co-op programs at SAP Labs in Vancouver.
Each of B.C.’s 25 public post-secondary institutions has received $75,000 in one-time funding, for a total investment of nearly $1.9 million, to enhance co-op and other work-integrated learning opportunities for students.
The B.C. government is working with public post-secondary institutions to expand opportunities for students to gain relevant work experience through co-op education and other forms of work-integrated learning.
This funding supports a mandate commitment for the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, as well as the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the B.C. Green Party caucus, to support co-op, apprenticeship and work experience programs for high school and undergraduate students through a four-year investment.
Kathy Kinloch, president, British Columbia Institute of Technology –
“Work-integrated learning has been the heart of the applied learning model at BCIT for more than 50 years. Taking education beyond the classroom empowers our students to make a real impact in each of their perspective industries, and provides industry the chance to train the next generation of talent.”
Kirsten Sutton, vice-president and managing director, SAP Labs Canada –
“At SAP Vancouver, our ability to build incredible software hinges on a strong pipeline of workforce-ready talent. We are encouraged by this investment from the Province of British Columbia to expand work-integrated learning opportunities for students, and offer this type of crucial hands-on experience to ready Canadian youth for a lifetime of employment in the digital economy.”
Joseph Hou, SAP Canada support engineer, and former intern –
“I can speak first hand to the power of a world-class education from BCIT, coupled with relevant work-integrated learning opportunities. In 2012, I was a student in computer systems technology at BCIT, and started my first internship with SAP. In 2015, I returned for a second internship, and was fortunate to have my role converted to full time. Now, in a full-circle moment, I manage a team that includes two BCIT interns. My career trajectory is a direct result of my work-integrated learning opportunity, and I’m thrilled to now have the chance to pay it forward to some very talented future grads.”
- In 2016-17, there were approximately 15,250 student co-op work placements. This represents an increase of almost 40% since 2011-12.
- The majority of students completing co-op work placements are at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria (86% in 2016-17).
- Approximately 4,175 (27%) of co-ops were with public-sector employers (municipal, provincial and federal ministries and agencies), approximately 850 (6%) with non-profit organizations and approximately 10,255 (67%) with private-sector employers.
- Co-op placements are concentrated in engineering (31% of placements in 2016-17), administration/business (19%), science (13%) and computer science (15%).
- Students can find co-op placements anywhere in the world, but most are placed in British Columbia (82% in 2016-17), generally in their local region (71% in 2016-17).
A backgrounder follows.