Waterloo co-op leaders set to present chapter of book at WIL conference

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

glassses on a notebook

By: Namish Modi

A key figure in University of Waterloo Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) is set to present at an international book launch conference this week.

Judene Pretti, director of the Waterloo Work-Learn Institute (WxL), will present a chapter of Applications of Work-Integrated Learning among Gen Z and Gen Y students as part of the Work Integrated Learning Among Gen Y and Z Conference on April 29. The chapter is written by Pretti and associate provost of CEE, Norah McRae.  

Pretti and McRae’s chapter in the work-integrated learning (WIL) book includes a case study of Waterloo’s world-leading Co-operative Education program.

headshot of Norah McRae

Norah McRae
Associate Provost
Co-operative and Experiential Education

 Judene Pretti Headshot

Judene Pretti
Director of Work-Learn Institute
University of Waterloo

“Our co-op program continues to adapt to a disruptive and ever-changing world,” says McRae. “We are excited to use our chapter of the book to share how Waterloo’s experience in preparing students for a complex future workforce could help inform other institutions and work-integrated learning practitioners.”

In line with Waterloo’s new Future Ready Talent Framework (FRTF), McRae and Pretti’s chapter considers how Waterloo co-op’s design aligns and supports students to prepare for future work. Due to major disruptions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the program continues to develop and adapt. The predicted changes in the future of work and the characteristics of Gen Z students necessitate the continued evolution of the program.

The chapter examines the role that WIL programs play in preparing students for a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world.

Meanwhile, it explores how Waterloo co-op connects talents listed in the FRTF to six future of work themes. Themes include advances in technology, culture of equity, diversity and inclusion, gig economy and organization and employee values.

“Skill agility, diversity and inclusion, and the gig economy are just some of the key future workforce trends that we’ve analyzed and connected to the FRTF” Pretti says. “The chapter we’ve developed presents an interesting case study to highlight how Waterloo’s co-op program – and more broadly, work-integrated learning experiences in general – can prepare young talent for what’s next.” 

Supported by the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA), Pearson College London, part of Pearson, a FTSE 100 and a global education company, hosts the international conference to celebrate the publication of the book. 


The book contains chapters from practitioners in the U.S., Canada, Italy, UK, France, Cyprus, India and Australia.

“The key objective of the book is to propose Work Integrated Learning as a pedagogy in its own right based on actual case studies of practice and so define the terms, concepts and practices from a global perspective and make the link to the application among Gen Y and Z students,” says Trevor Gerdhart, convenor of the ESREA Working Life and Learning Network.

“The conference will bring together practitioners from around the world to share from their experiences what new challenges GenY and Z will face as learners within the new ever-changing workplace.”