The Current

All post-secondary students should do internship or co-op, says employment and education group

The Business Higher Education Round Table says too many students are entering the workforce without the practical skills that employers want, and believe mandatory workplace co-ops would assist all graduating students find the right job sooner.
Mandatory co-op placements allow students in trade programs the opportunity to get experience in the workforce, facilitating an easier transition out of school. Could internships of this nature be useful for all post-graduate students? ((iStock))

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Co-op placements are a fairly common component to practical educational programs, like nursing or fashion design, where a hands on experience offers obvious benefits to both students and businesses.

However, The Business Higher Education Round Table —a group composed of business, education and industry leaders— is recommending mandatory co-op placements and internships for all post-secondary students in Canada.

They call them soft skills - anything from communications skills, teamwork, problem solving, to customer service. Those skills that come to the fore when you're working in a diverse environment with many challenges, and it's not just that you're studying one subject, you're also working as part of a team.- Anne Sado , on areas employers find students lack

The group says too many students are entering the workforce without the practical skills that employers want, and believe mandatory workplace co-ops would help all graduating students find the right job sooner. 

Co-op definitely opened some doors, and made me realize what I did, and didn't like.- Stephane Hamade, mathematics student at the University of Waterloo.

The Current discusses the benefits of co-op placements, the likelihood they would improve students' chances of acquiring work, and the feasibility of implementing said programs.

This isn't [an issue] of a lack of training or a lack of  education. We have the most highly educated cohort ever, and the problem that they're running up against is a poor labour market. Employers are not training their young workers, and they're not putting on offer the jobs.-Andrew Langille , Toronto-based labour lawyer.
  • Anne Sado, co-chair of the Business-Higher Education Round Table and president of George Brown College. 
  • Stephane Hamade, mathematics student at the University of Waterloo.
  • Nathan Laurie, CEO and president of, an online youth employment network.
  • Andrew Langille, a Toronto-based labour lawyer.

Do you think co-op placements should be mandatory for all post-graduate students? 

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This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar, Julian Uzielli, Marc Apollonio.