If you’ve ever had to hire before, chances are you’ve considered co-op students through a co-operative education program as a form of work placement. But hiring co-op students is a bit different than hiring employees, so if you’ve only ever toyed with the idea of hiring co-op students but you’ve never followed through (or if this is your first time hearing about the concept!), this blog post will answer, what is co-operative education, and break down why you should hire co-op students.
What Is Co-operative Education (and What It Isn’t)?
Co-operative education (or co-op) is a learning program that combines classroom education with hands-on, practical work experience. Students (post-secondary or high school) are placed with partnering businesses through their educational institution to receive work experience in the industry or sector they are receiving training in. A co-op is paid and is intended to advance the education and experience of the student.
Co-operative education is not:
- free or unpaid labour
- replacement for in-class learning, like apprenticeship or on-the-job skills training
- done without the partnership of an educational institution
Ok, so now you have the answer to, what is co-operative education; but you may be asking: if it’s intended to advance the education and experience of the student, how does it benefit my business? Well, that’s a valid question and we’re so glad you asked!
Here’s Why You Should Hire Co-op Students
So, yes, the priority of these kinds of work placement programs is to advance the student’s education and experience and you may be asking: what’s in it for me? Student co-ops don’t mean employers do not benefit.
Hiring co-op students provides employers with:
- flexible hiring where students can help launch new projects, complete existing or unfinished ones, or offer an extra set of hands during peak times
- efficient recruitment since employers will often hire their co-op students in full-time positions after their program is complete; the students are already comfortable in the position, have training, and understand the company culture, reducing recruitment costs
- higher retention rates since re-hired co-op students feel a stronger sense of loyalty to the business and don’t experience the same growing pains new employees do during onboarding
- enthusiasm from their supply of (often) young people with fresh ideas
- connections within the community and with post-secondary institutions
Not every college or university has the same work placement programs, which may differ depending on the type of program, seasonality, and geographic boundaries. To learn more about the work placement programs like co-operative education in Ontario East, visit Ontario East Work Placement Round Up.
External links are provided as informational resources only and are not necessarily endorsed by Ontario East.