The B.C. government is funding more co-op and work integrated learning (WIL) placements through BCIT’s Annacis Island campus as part of a province-wide initiative to offset the loss of work placements due to COVID-19.
On Dec. 3, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training announced $5.5 million in one-time funding to expand co-ops and WIL programs, supporting a total of 46 projects at the province’s 25 public post-secondary institutions and creating up to 3,000 new co-op and WIL placements for students.
BCIT will receive over $165,000 to create a new mandatory co-op program in the Heavy-Duty Truck Technology diploma program, expand the school’s network of small and medium enterprises participating in WIL programs, increase the number of under-represented students in 11 co-op programs, and recover overall from impact of COVID-19.
“B.C. is leading Canada in economic recovery, and the key to further growth is ensuring we have a skilled workforce,” Delta-North MLA and Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation Ravi Kahlon said in a press release. “Investments like this ensure our residents gain skills that will be needed to compete in the future economy.”
A ministry press release says the 2019 B.C. Labour Market Outlook forecasted more than 860,000 job openings would need to be filled over the next decade, 77 per cent of which will require some level of post-secondary education or training.
According to the ministry, there were 14,318 co-op work placements at 16 public post-secondary institutions in 2020-2021, involving more than 6,800 employers who paid more than $174 million in student wages. Co-op placements were concentrated in engineering (30 per cent), administration/business (17 per cent), science (13 per cent) and computer science (19 per cent).
However, that was a 14.8 per cent decrease from the previous year — a loss of almost 2,500 co-op placements — due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and other forms of WIL were also affected.
“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,” Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training Anne Kang said in a press release.
“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,” Kahlon said. “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.”
A full list of programs and schools receiving funding is available at news.gov.bc.ca/files/Co-op_WIL_Projects.pdf.