Making the Most of Co-Op Recruitment

Co-op students are a major source of passion, knowledge, and talent for Canadian manufacturers in any industry. As manufacturing leaders, how can we begin recruiting these motivated workers in an efficient, effective way?

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Students are one of the most prosperous sources of labour for Canadian manufacturers, but many business leaders are still reluctant to seek workers in the nation’s academic environment. Common misconceptions about the complexities or high costs of recruiting students have led to countless organizations missing out on a critical solution to their labour needs — and, more pressingly, have contributed to minimizing the interests of students in the manufacturing sector altogether. Fortunately for manufacturers, though, hiring students has never been easier, more accessible, or more cost-effective than it is today. Let’s dive into the world of student recruitment, and examine how co-operative education can meet your company’s demands for labour in every department.

Co-operative recruitment — the process of temporarily hiring students between academic semesters — is a standard aspect of modern post-secondary education throughout Canada. Almost every major university or college offers co-op programs to its students, and, in many cases, completing these programs is a necessary component of these students’ academic credentials. To facilitate this process, schools often partner directly with a wide variety of businesses, providing a diverse range of options suited to varying student interests. Manufacturers looking to recruit student talent should make communicating with these academic institutions their top priority — today’s schools employ entire departments of co-op representatives eager to establish connections with business leaders. Once the foundations for these relationships have been laid, manufacturers can begin promoting their available positions directly to students, typically through online job boards or on-campus events. These activities are an easy way of building awareness of one’s organization within a student base, and act as the first step to a successful student hire.

While the process of advertising an available position may be simple, attracting students to the role is decidedly more complex. Today’s students have a vast array of expectations for their potential workplaces that stand in addition to their need for fair compensation. Without adequately responding to these desires, manufacturers won’t be able to draw these students towards their organizations. In a recent study conducted by the University of Waterloo’s Work-Learn Institute, nearly 50% of co-op students confirmed that they would not apply to a position that didn’t align with their own personal values — even if they were the position’s prime candidate. The expectations of modern co-op students make writing timely, appealing job posts critical, especially for manufacturers that do have distinct competitive advantages in their organization’s culture. When posting about an available position at your organization, be sure to highlight what makes your work meaningful to the employee, the industry, and the world at large. Students that can immediately understand the tangible impact of a role on its surrounding environment will be eager to learn more, which allows manufacturers the ideal opportunity to demonstrate the value of their company.

Today’s co-op students offer a level of passion, knowledge, and talent unmatched by any other labour demographic, and securing these early-career professionals is key to building modernized manufacturing processes. If your organization is ready to begin utilizing the abilities of Canada’s academics, an initiative specialized for student recruitment in manufacturing — like EMC’s WILWorks Post-Secondary program — is your greatest resource. By taking advantage of the numerous funding, networking, and operational benefits that these initiatives provide, your business can harness the power of co-operative education in a straightforward, efficient manner, and start developing the next generation of manufacturing success!

To learn more about EMC's WILWorks Post Secondary Program, contact Wendy Gray, Senior Project Coordinator, or Carol Choquette, EMC’s bilingual Employer Engagement Specialist. Attend EMC events frequently for knowledge and expertise tailored to Canada’s manufacturing leaders.

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