Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training announced an investment of $9 million towards co-op and work-integrated learning for all 24 public-post secondary intuitions in B.C. The majority of students completing co-op work placements are at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria at 85 per cent of co-op students in 2018-19. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

Province funds $9M for co-op and work-integrated learning

In 2018-19 more than 7,500 employers paid $196.4 million in student wages

Giving students a taste of the real world is the aim of many universities. With a new funding announcement by Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, an investment of $9 million will be put towards co-op and work-integrated learning.

According to Mark, the funding will support increased opportunities for students who are currently under represented in co-op and work-integrated learning, including Indigenous students and students with disabilities.

READ ALSO: Co-op grant bridges tech talent gap for small business

She says co-op education gives students the opportunity to develop new skills and helps them excel in their careers.

“Graduates enter the job market industry-ready with world connections in their chosen field of work,” she says adding that last years investment of $75,000 went a long way but the $9 million will substantially increase the number of opportunities for students.

Mataya Jim, a UVic undergraduate student completing a double major in sociology and Indigenous studies, is in her third co-op and says it’s a great experience that all students should try.

READ ALSO: New scholarship fund supports UVic’s best graduate students

“I was given the space to practice translating my favourite classroom topics into real-world action,” she says.

According to the B.C. Labour Market Outlook forecast there will be 900,000 jobs that need to be filled over the next decade. Of those job openings, 77 per cent will require some level of post secondary education or training.

Working with the Accountability Council for Co-op and Work Integrated Learning, the money will be allocated to institutions and sector partners through a proposal-based application process that will start 2019.

In 2018-19 there were approximately 17,000 co-op work placement involving nearly 7,800 different employers who paid more than $196.4 million in student wages. Co-op placements are concentrated mostly in engineering at 31 per cent, administration or business at 18 per cent, science at 14 per cent and computer science at 16 per cent.

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