Last month, the federal government of Canada officially launched the Student Work Integrated Learning Program (SWILP).

The purpose of this program is to provide students in post-secondary institutions with a larger selection of high quality work placements and improve the partnership between employers and these post-secondary institutions.

This program focuses particularly on students and employers in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and business fields – in other words, ectors in which the University of Waterloo excels highly. The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Labour, announced that this will help create 60,000 student work placements over the next five years.

Through the initiation of this program, employers who are eligible to participate can hire co-op students with relatively high levels of affordability. On average, organizations are able to receive anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000 per co-op student they hire.

Moreover, organizations who operate within Ontario are also eligible to receive tax credits up to $3,000 as part of the Co-operative Education Tax Credit.

These investments in co-operative education will be funded by a variety of partners, two of which will be providing funding to employers.

This funding has already begun for the fall 2017 co-op term. BioTalent Canada will be focusing on the bio-economy sector and providing around $5.6 million and ECO Canada will focus on students in the environmental sector.

So what does all this mean for the University of Waterloo?

UW already has the largest co-op program in the world, making it a global leader of co-op programs in post-secondary institutions. This title has also contributed to the university’s placement among the ranks of the most hireable students upon post-graduation in the world.

The QS Graduate Employability Rankings for 2018, which measures the success of students securing jobs upon graduation, has placed Waterloo at the 24th position, with the University of Toronto ahead as the only other Canadian university on the list.

After speaking to several co-op students who gravitate towards jobs in the business sector it is evident that there is excitement for potential new work opportunities.

As one current co-op student in Economics and Business, Tushar J. says, “We see many people working in a job profile that doesn’t match their program completely. With this new policy, there will be more variety and better options for students to explore.”

Another student, Eva P., studying Sociology and Business says, “Companies in the business fields that may not have offered co-op positions in the past may start seeing an incentive to offering positions to students, increasing the number of opportunities students have to learn and gain experience.”

With the university’s leading reputation in co-operative education, and through the increased affordability of hiring students, this lucrative deal will surely grow the co-operative education program, one that is already growing in its own right every year. 

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