From facilitating affordable, accessible energy to encouraging students to think beyond their job descriptions, empowering students was a common theme for many employers in 2020.  Many employers continue to find new ways to prepare students for a future none of us would have pictured.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, work, and the future of work, has changed considerably. Companies saw their workforce, including some co-op students, working from different countries and some moved to fully remote work.

Through immense change, Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE)’s Employer Impact Award recipients offered Waterloo students unique opportunities to develop their skills. Students are developing technical and human-centric skills that help better prepare them for the workforce. 

The second Employer Impact Awards were held virtually on October 7, 2021. Here are this year’s recipients:

  • Impact in Innovation – Geotab Inc.
  • Impact in International Excellence – ASSA ABLOY
  • Impact in Research – Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (Odette Cancer Centre)
  • Impact in Sustainability – Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy
  • Impact on Student Experience – Polar

Despite a virtual setting, employers and students at the recipient organizations have continued to partner in producing exceptional work.

Polar prioritizes work-life balance for students and staff. Geotab encourages its co-op students to innovate and find solutions in the workplace. Sunnybrook’s Odette Cancer Centre (OCC) facilitates students running their own clinical trials. Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE) provides students with an understanding of the importance of sustainable energy. ASSA ABLOY, which typically offers students an experience working abroad, was able to keep students through the challenge of working remotely from different time zones. 

“Congratulations to all of this year’s Employer Impact Award recipients. It’s an honour to work with our global network of employers to create rich, quality learning experiences for students,” says Associate Provost of CEE, Norah McRae. “Collectively, we ensure a strong future economy by enabling our talented students to establish a lifelong learning mindset and develop the most in-demand skills for an increasingly complex future workforce.”

Mutually beneficial partnership for students, employers and the University

CEE employers provide work-integrated learning opportunities for more than 25,000 co-op students. More than 7,100 employers from 60+ countries come to Waterloo to access student talent from the world’s largest co-op talent pool. The program continues to help students develop skills that make them ready to tackle the workforce.

“Every co-op experience creates a space for our employers to harness the power of students’ enthusiasm, academic knowledge and interest in learning,” says Ross Johnston, executive director of Co-operative Education. “Through such supportive and inclusive co-op experiences, our students find meaning and are enabled to be future-ready.”

Learn more about our winners

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) – Innovation Division

Impact in Innovation

NERv Technology
Impact in Interdisciplinary

Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE)

Impact in International Excellence

Rhetoricon Database
Impact in Research

Canadian Wildlife Service

Impact in Sustainability


Impact on Student Experience