Work Placement: Co-ops and More
The term work placement has come to mean many things to many employers. From short-term job placements to discovering top performers, providing industry experience to those pursuing educational goals can be a very successful component of your hiring strategy.
For many employers, hiring through student placements is the preferred starting point for narrowing down the talent pool. The ability to choose from candidates who, first and foremost are interested in the industry, takes the guesswork out of random resume selection.
Many educational programs include work placements for students to enhance what is being learned in the classroom, to explore the industry, and to gain practical experience.
In educational circles work placements take on three forms: Practicums, Internships, and Co-operative Education Placements.
- Practicum: Unpaid volunteer work conducted for a short-term period of time
- Internship: A term of work that is a component of a post-graduate strategy. Internships are sponsored and include a wage subsidy
- Co-op Placements: Considered a midway option, co-operative education placements are paid positions for specific blocks of time spread out over the duration of an educational program. The total work term required to be completed by a student in order to graduate is between 8 and 12 months. Co-ops always finish on a semester and students return to the classroom at the end of each work term
In terms of expectations, work placement relationships must be balanced and have value to both parties. Employers must provide quality work and responsibilities to the student as well as learning opportunities that are of value to their education. If students are to be encouraged to commit to the industry they must take something back to the classroom that positively enhances their perception.
Students can expect to take on their work responsibilities with focus and dedication. A positive attitude and the ability to become part of the team are key traits employers will seek out. As is the case with all career seekers, students will want to make a positive contribution and leave an exceptional impression as the potential may exists to grow professionally with the company.
Without a doubt, two major benefits exist that should make all employers consider work placements when looking for staff.
REDUCE YOUR TRAINING COSTS
Work placement students generally require little or less training at the forefront. They are often ramped up in the classroom for handling workplace situations and tend to be better prepared than those with no experience or education in the field whatsoever.
RETAIN EMPLOYEES IN THE LONG RUN
Work placements offer an invaluable way to test the mettle and decide if a match exists for future employment. Ask around and you’ll likely learn that many valued employees and successful leaders took their first industry steps through work placements. You can bet that watching someone perform in a true working environment will either confirm your desire to potentially hire them long term or send them back to the classroom with average marks.
More than ever, tourism is a robust, expanding industry where work placements are an extremely viable hiring option. Depending on the type of business you operate and your business cycle, they are ideal for addressing temporary or short-term staffing needs as well as assigning specific projects or responsibilities.
For seasonal operations, it is recognized that academic schedules do not always match staffing needs. Approaching work placements on a case by case basis can result in some unique local solutions and creative options that satisfy the needs of both students and employers.
The best way to keep on top of what’s available in your area is to connect and communicate with your local schools, colleges, and educational facilities.
For further information, check out The Association for Co-operative Education in British Columbia / Yukon (ACE) a non-profit organization of all post-secondary institutions in the region that offer co-operative education programs.