More internship and co-op workplace opportunities will be made available due to $1.9 million in funding provided to all of B.C.s 25 public universities, colleges and institutes, including the College of New Caledonia in Vanderhoof.

Co-op and work-integrated learning a priority for B.C.

Post-secondary students living across British Columbia will soon be privy to stronger opportunities to take part in co-op and other work-integrated learning opportunities.

These options and opportunities come as a result of almost $1.9 million in funding provided to all of B.C.s 25 public universities, colleges and institutes, including the College of New Caledonia in Vanderhoof.

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, recently made the announcement during a visit to SAP Labs Canada in Vancouver, where there are currently 175 co-op students and interns 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.”

As someone who has ample experience going through the often tedious process of finding an appropriate internship, any news that gives post-secondary students more co-op opportunities is welcome.

According to a news release issued by the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, public post-secondary institutions across the province will be able to use these funds to support outreach to more employers, increase awareness of the benefits of work-integrated learning to employers and students, while also improving the capacity to place students into a meaningful workplace-based learning environment.

“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, the 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.”

For those who are not familiar with the idea of co-op education, it is a process that is proven to be the best-known and most-formalized method of work-integrated learning. Joseph Hou, a SAP Canada support engineer and former intern himself, can attest to that statement.

“I can speak first hand to the power of a world-class education from BCIT, coupled with relevant work-integrated learning opportunities,” said Hou. “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,” continued Hou.

Co-op education combines academic studies with paid work experience in career-related fields, with other forms of work-integrated learning includes internships, on-site practicums and applied research projects.

Per information provided in the news release, each of the aforementioned 25 public post-secondary institutions across the province has received $75,000 in one-time funding. This ultimately results in a total investment of nearly $1.9 million, all under the overarching to enhance co-op and other work-integrated learning opportunities for students.

Additionally, the B.C. government states that they are working with public post-secondary institutions to further expand these work experience opportunities, so that students will be able to achieve relevant work experience in their chosen fields.

Ultimately, 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.

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