Successful organizations should be prepared for anything and look for ways to turn challenges into opportunities. Royal Bank of Canada economists are predicting a potential recession in Canada for the first quarter of 2023. Like many recessions in history, experts predict the upcoming recession will decrease working hours for the employed, increase unemployment, and lengthen job searches.
No business wants to resort to layoffs and hiring freezes. The good news is that there are alternatives that can turn this challenge into an opportunity. How can you respond to the upcoming recession? One great option is to hire co-op students.
Hiring co-op students is a cost-effective way to find enthusiastic and hardworking employees, where both you and the students you hire can reap benefits.
What is co-operative education?
Co-operative education (co-op) programs allow post-secondary students to gain hands-on work experience by pairing their formal education with temporary work placements in their field of study. Through these programs, students can populate their résumé with relevant job experience, receive a credible reference, and use their experience as leverage to gain a higher salary in their first permanent job. During their work placements, students also build essential skills, including important soft skills that are easier to learn outside a classroom setting.
While there are plenty of benefits for students, hiring co-op students can also be valuable for employers.
Why hire co-op students?
Co-op work opportunities are a way to develop future talent while managing your workforce, especially during economic downturns. They offer businesses a pool of bright and motivated students eager to showcase their skills.
Here are the top ways organizations can benefit from hiring co-op students:
- Gain fresh perspectives – You will find that co-op students typically approach their roles with energy and enthusiasm. Co-op students want to improve their chances of future employment (whether at your company or elsewhere), so they are especially motivated to perform their job well. Because they’re in school, co-op students will likely be studying the latest trends affecting your industry and will have up-to-date skills. Because they are looking at your business from a new angle, they may ask questions or have ideas that you or other employees have not yet considered. Fresh perspectives can inspire innovation, and co-op students’ enthusiasm can be refreshing and contagious.
- Save money – Co-op work placements offer many financial benefits for companies, including affordable salaries and government-granted wage subsidies. Some provinces even offer wage-dependent tax credits to companies that hire co-op students.
- Connect with future talent – By hiring co-op students, you are steadily filling your talent pipeline and forging relationships with potential future hires. Through offering a great co-op experience, you may very well be developing and mentoring these students into loyal full-time employees once they graduate.
What to consider when hiring co-op students
Hiring co-op students can strengthen your workforce and save you money. There are, however, a few key questions you should ask so you can create the best experience for your co-op students and ensure the greatest benefit for your company.
- How can I protect the health and safety of new and young workers?
- How can I create a sense of belonging in my organization?
- How can I effectively manage co-op students’ performance and provide useful feedback?
In our FREE Guide to Managing Co-op Students, we explore these questions and more. Compiled by our HR experts, this guide identifies practical methods to boost co-op student engagement, motivation, and performance in order to create a great co-op experience for both your student employees and your organization.