Benefits of Skilled Trade Co-op Programs for Secondary Students
Most high schools in Canada offer work experience programs, also known as Co-operative Education or, Co-op. Students get to spend part of the day in a workplace environment in a career field of their choice.
These programs are designed to give students the opportunity to apply and develop the skills they have learned in the classroom in a real-life career setting, while learning new skills and gaining valuable work experience.
Co-op programs are always a great idea, especially if you’re considering a career in the skilled trades.
Exploring your Options
To begin with, Co-op offers you a first-hand glimpse into a career or field you might be interested in. During a placement, students are given responsibilities, as well as opportunities to participate in work-based projects.
It’s a hands-on experience, as well as a surefire way to help you decide if a career is right for you. For example, at a placement in an auto-repair garage, you might learn that you’d be more in sheet-metal working, instead of auto-mechanics.
The most appealing aspect of all is that you get to work in your chosen field while earning credits toward your high school diploma!
The real world experience of a Co-op placement teaches students life skills they will use now and in the future. Some of those skills include:
During a work placement, you are treated as an employee. Therefore, you are expected to arrive to your placement on time and dress in a manner that is appropriate for the workplace.
You are also expected to behave in a matter than shows confidence and respect towards your supervisor(s) and colleagues. Furthermore, you get that same respect back in return when you show a professional attitude.
As a Co-op student, you are expected to carry out responsibilities like any other employee in the professional workplace.
A company and/or client will not hire you if they can’t rely on you to fulfill your responsibilities.
Skilled workers, whether they are self-employed or work for a company, have to be accountable because their livelihood depends on it.
While taking Co-op, you learn to juggle school with your work placement, and other commitments (i.e. extra-curricular, part-time job, etc). The ability to multi-task well is not only a skill, it’s a gift.
Skilled labour industries rely heavily on worker productivity. Co-op students working for instance, on a construction site, in a plant or auto repair shop, learn how to balance and prioritize projects.
The skilled trades most often require labourers to work effectively as a team. Think about construction workers on a site, or technicians on a power line.
Co-op students interested in pursuing a skilled trade get to experience first-hand, the importance of relying on fellow workers to get a job done, while keeping everyone safe.
Graduation and Beyond
After graduation, you will likely choose to enroll in a post-secondary program or pursue an apprenticeship. Guess what? That co-op course you took looks great on your application!
Also, it’s not at all unusual for students to get hired by their Co-op employers; a work placement could eventually turn into a future job.
Finally, having that Co-op experience also gives students the opportunity to network and build lifelong contacts. These contacts just might lead you to your dream career!