2018 Co-operative Education Annual Report: Message from the Executive Director

Friday, February 1, 2019

Ross JohnstonFor more than 60 years, Waterloo has developed, grown and innovated upon what is now a world-class program in co-operative education and career preparedness. Our reflections from the 2017/18 fiscal year show that Waterloo’s co-op program remains one of the top influencing factors in student enrolment and a leading facilitator employer-student relations in engagement and recruitment.

The 2017 fall term saw co-op enrolment top 21,000 full-time undergraduate students. This is a 17 per cent increase since 2013. Despite this record-high in enrolment, our co-op student employment rate soared to 98.5 per cent over the course of the fiscal year, reaching an astounding peak of 99.8 per cent of students employed for the fall 2017 work term.

On one very busy day in the Tatham Centre, we facilitated more than 1,700 interviews! To accommodate the increasing number of employers looking to connect with our students, we revamped our call centres for web and phone interviews. Check out the photos below to see the call centre. This facility allows more employers to reach our students remotely - an increasingly popular option as our students are hired by organizations all over the world. 

The relationship between our students and employers is symbiotic. In the 2019 QS Graduate Employability Rankings, Waterloo was named the top school in Canada for Employer-Student Connections. Employers recognize the caliber of Waterloo students. Across every discipline and level of experience you can find a student who has created a meaningful impact in their workplace, such as increasing municipal drinking water capacity by 30% or publishing groundbreaking research in astronomy. This is why 95.0 per cent of all co-op students received work term evaluations of ‘very good’ to ‘outstanding’ in the last year. The growing number of employers from all over the world who hire Waterloo students demonstrates the reaches of our reputation for excellence. We now have more than 7,000 employers actively hiring our co-op students, including 1,400 new employers who hired in the last year.

TC Call Centre room with computer, headset and phone on a desk for remote interviews.Sign indicating the Red Call Centre waiting area.

A top-notch program like this one cannot operate without the hard work and dedication of staff and faculty happening behind the scenes. Last year, our team processed over 1.1 million co-op job applications and helped facilitate over 87,000 interviews. On the frontline, our Information Centre staff helped students, employers and staff by facilitating more than 37,000 interactions.

The Centre for Career Action (CCA) is an invaluable career-development resource for both co-op and regular stream students. In 2017/18, more than 11,400 student participants attended in-person workshops and events hosted by the CCA. More than 7,800 students logged in and engaged with digital career-specific content.

Co-operative Education is part of the University of Waterloo’s DNA. From the humble beginnings of this institution, co-op and work-integrated learning opportunities have remained an integral part of Waterloo’s vision and mission. The program has evolved to meet changing industries, technologies and economies. Our adaptability and resiliency along with our forward-thinking nature is one of the reasons the University of Waterloo’s co-operative education program is recognized as a hallmark of excellence.

Our evolution and continuous improvement did not slow down in the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Last year, we introduced a co-op research certificate, and our partners in WatPD officially launched the EDGE experiential education certificate program in September 2017.

We also welcomed Dr. Norah McRae, our new Associate Provost, Co-operative and Experiential Education in fall 2018. Norah’s presence promises to strengthen Waterloo’s reputation as a leader in all forms of work-integrated learning and career-readiness. I am so proud to reflect on all of the amazing work being done by those who contribute to the career success and employability of our students and am excited to move into the challenges and successes of this year.

I hope you enjoy the 2018 Co-operative Education Annual Report.

Ross Johnston,

Executive Director, Co-operative Education