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Posted: December 3, 2021

COTR gets work integrated learning funds

Students throughout British Columbia will have access to as many as 3,000 new co-op and work integrated learning (WIL) opportunities in 2021-22 thanks to new funding and a focus on bolstering placements affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training is investing $5.5 million in one-time funding to expand co-ops and WIL programs. In total, 46 projects at all 25 public post-secondary institutions in B.C. are being supported, including at College of the Rockies (COTR).

The college is getting a share of funds to help restart co-op education and further develop co-op options in 13 program areas at the diploma and degree levels, including accounting, hospitality management, marketing, business administration, adventure tourism, and environmental science.

“The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately impacted youth employment prospects, including reducing the number of co-op and work integrated learning placements available to students. We are investing in these opportunities to help students access the hands-on experiences they need to launch their careers,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “Helping employers throughout the province offer co-op and work-integrated learning opportunities is good news for business and great news for students.”

“B.C.’s competitive advantage is its people, and by investing in skills training, we are supporting our economic recovery and building long-term prosperity,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “Lifelong learning is key to building the sustainable workforce B.C. needs to address labour shortages now and in the future. This commitment to skills training will open up more opportunities for good jobs that help make communities thrive.”

The 2019 B.C. Labour Market Outlook forecasts more than 860,000 job openings that will need to be filled over the next decade. Of those job openings, 77% will require some level of post-secondary education or training.

In 2020-21, there were 14,318 co-op work placements at 16 public post-secondary institutions, involving more than 6,800 employers who paid more than $174 million in student wages.

This was a 14.8% decrease from 2019-20, or a loss of almost 2,500 co-op placements, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other forms of WIL were also affected.

Co-op placements are concentrated in engineering (30% of placements in 2020-21), administration/business (17%), science (13%) and computer science (19%).

“With the help of co-op, I was able to learn about actual hospitality skills like teamwork, leadership, time management and customer relations. We applied our knowledge in practical situations and learned communications skills and how to attract customers,” stated Sandhu Awrinder, hospitality management student at College of the Rockies.

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