Co-op and internship students a valuable source of new talent — survey

November 18, 2014

Incentives would create more opportunities for students

OTTAWA – Small- and medium-sized employers say university co-op graduates are job-ready – and they would hire more of them with the help of new government incentives.

Employers across Canada say co-op and internship students have the job-ready new talent and fresh thinking they need to compete in an increasingly competitive marketplace.  But a recent survey by Leger Marketing for the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada also shows that employers in SMEs would create more co-op and internship opportunities for students if they had access to incentives, such as federal government vouchers or tax credits.  More than 400 small- and medium-sized enterprises across Canada were surveyed between August and September 2014.

Hiring managers say co-op and internship students are an important asset for their companies, but many see barriers in hiring them. These include salary costs, difficulties in finding the right student and the time required to supervise and train them. Government tax incentives and vouchers would reduce those barriers, according to the survey.

Companies surveyed represented a broad range of industry sectors.

The release of the survey results coincides with the AUCC-led Open Doors, Open Knowledge – Big ideas for better business initiativeThis year’s national university open house, held in partnership with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and taking place at 45 institutions this month, highlights the role of university and private sector partnerships in driving prosperity and innovation, creating jobs and preparing students for rewarding careers.

Key findings:

  • Four out of five employers who took part in the study say co-op and internship students add value to their company as a source of new talent and as future employees with workplace skills. Two-thirds say these new hires contribute new ideas to the company and are effective in their work.
  • More than two-thirds of surveyed hiring managers say they would be more inclined to hire co-op and internship students if their organizations were entitled to tax credits or vouchers for those hires. This proportion is higher in companies working in the fields of natural resources and agriculture (87%), manufacturing and construction (85%), as well as companies based in Quebec (75%).
  • Those that have hired university co-op and internship students say the top three barriers preventing their organization from hiring more of these students include difficulties in finding the appropriate candidate, the time required of senior staff to train and supervise them and the salary cost. These are the same barriers identified by companies that do not hire co-op and internship students.


“This study reinforces the value of experiential learning through co-ops and internships in helping students transition to careers,” says Paul Davidson, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. “Employers clearly recognize the value of work-integrated learning – and government could help small and medium-sized businesses get greater access to these students.”

“Fifty percent of university students participate in a co-op, internship or community service learning placement,” adds Mr. Davidson. “Co-op enrolment has grown by 25 percent in recent years. More than 1,000 co-op programs are now offered at 59 universities.”


Further survey results available upon request.

Tagged:  Co-ops and internships

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