KELOWNA - Study time for water engineering technology student Dave Swityk could mean hitting the books on campus at Okanagan College. Or it could mean a day on the job taking groundwater samples or stream gauging, or perhaps core logging at a mine site in northern British Columbia.
Co-op programs connect post-secondary students with paid on-the-job work experiences related to their fields of study. Each co-op program requires the student to complete a certain number of work terms and a certain number of academic terms, leading to a certificate, diploma or degree at the undergraduate or graduate level.
By the time Dave gets his diploma in water engineering technology, he will have completed four academic semesters and three work semesters.
Co-op programs give students the opportunity to make some money while they apply their classroom studies in a practical environment, and the work experience establishes connections which help them land jobs once they graduate. The students meanwhile bring new ideas and perspectives to the workplace, and employers get a chance to take a good long look at potential future employees.
Currently, 17 B.C. public post-secondary institutions are running about 174 unique co-op programs in a wide range of areas from business administration, computer information systems and biotechnology to automotive service, economics, kinesiology and creative writing.
To promote awareness of the value of co-operative education, the Province has proclaimed March 19 to 23, 2012 as "Co-operative Education Week".
Why It Matters:
Over the next decade, more than a million jobs will be available in British Columbia and three-quarters of them will require some post-secondary training. Co-op education programs make post-secondary education more relevant by giving students practical work experience related to what they're learning in class, better preparing them with the skills and connections they need to fill high demand jobs in British Columbia. Ensuring British Columbians are trained for the jobs of tomorrow is a key piece of the BC Jobs Plan.
Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of Advanced Education -
"As we celebrate Co-operative Education Week, I'd like to thank the thousands of employers around the province and all the faculty and staff at our public post-secondary institutions who make these programs possible."
"Co-ops are building today's students into the skilled, job ready, mature and confident workers who will drive our communities and our economy into a prosperous future."
Dave Swityk, second-year co-op student at Okanagan College describing work term with Knight Piésold Consulting -
"Since being here I have been doing groundwater sampling, well development and steam gauging. This job is exactly the career I was looking for."
Andrew Marr, manager, Vernon Water Reclamation Centre and co-op employer -
"We've hired several water engineering technology co-op students as full-time employees. Just think of the co-op experience as your extended interview."
Jim Hamilton, president of Okanagan College -
"Co-op education is a vital option for many of our students. Not only does it meet student needs in terms of real-world experience, it provides a real benefit in improved learning outcomes. It benefits employers by offering them graduates who already have experience in their chosen field."
- Approximately 10, 280 co-op placements were made by B.C. public post secondary institutions, an increase of 2.3 per cent over 2010.
- More than 4,700 employers hired co-op students for work terms.
- 65 per cent of work placements were in the region local to the institution.
- 67 per cent of placements were in the private sector.
- The average monthly salary for co-op students was $2,580.87.
- More than 360 placements were with the provincial government and more than 1,600 placements with provincial agencies in positions as diverse as communications, forestry, engineering and business administration.
The universities that have co-op programs are: Capilano University, University of the Fraser Valley, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Simon Fraser University, Thompson Rivers University, University of British Columbia, University of British Columbia-Okanagan, University of Northern British Columbia, University of Victoria and Vancouver Island University.
The colleges that have co-op programs are: Camosun College, Douglas College, Langara College, North Island College, Okanagan College, Selkirk College. British Columbia Institute of Technology also has co-op programs.
The Association for Co-operative Education British Columbia/Yukon is a provincial non-profit organization that promotes co-operative education to both employers and students.
To hire a co-op student or learn more about co-operative education programs in British Columbia visit the Association for Co-operative Education (ACE) website at: www.co-op.bc.ca
To find out about co-operative education programs at Okanagan College, visit:
For more links to co-operative education sites, visit WorkBC at:
For information on post secondary-education in British Columbia and links to post-secondary institutions visit:
For information on the BC Jobs Plan: http://www.bcjobsplan.ca/
Ministry of Advanced Education
250 893-5650 (cellular)