Benefits of Skilled Trade Co-op...

Benefits of Skilled Trade Co-op Programs for Secondary Students

by L. Tetro
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

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!

Life Skills

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!

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