An important aspect of a private career college is the opportunity to connect to various industries through a practicum, a brief, unpaid work opportunity, or a term of paid co-op work experience through a job placement program.
These programs allow you, as a student, to gain the practical knowledge than you can’t acquire from academic learning only, and provides you with the opportunity for on-the-job observation, or hands-on work experience, or up to a year of work experience in the field of your choice.
There’s a Difference Between a Practicum and a Work Term
College courses can differ widely in the amount of time you spend learning and training. You may sign up for a course that lasts only a few weeks, and your goal may be for a little training that will help you land that perfect job by, say, improving your language skills. Other students are looking for longer and more intense courses, such as preparation for certification or licensing examinations in a particular field.
- A short program will often have a practicum offered as part of your studies. After having completed a certain amount of academic work, you will be given the opportunity to accompany a worker throughout a day (or more) for first-hand observation of how a particular job is performed on a day-to-day basis. You may even be given small tasks to perform under supervision. A practicum supports and enhances the academic material and provides practical information and insights into your career choice, and there may be several practicums offered in a course.
- A year-long program may have a brief, unpaid work opportunity. The job will be closely supervised and arranged primarily to give you a little work experience, which will increase your chances of getting a job after graduation.
- A two-year program with co-op usually provides a year-long paid work term or multiple work terms that add up to one year. This program supplies very useful job experience.
Work Terms are Arranged Through a Job Placement Program
An agreement between the private career college and various companies allow for the practicum program, work terms, and year-long co-op programs to exist.
- The co-operative agreements entitle the college to offer this important aspect of training to its students, and the companies involved get student employees for the short or the long term at low cost, or with costs shared by the government.
- As well, the program produces a pool of possible future employers from which companies can draw when they have job openings.
- Sometimes a work term results in a job offer to a student if an opening in the company occurs when the term ends and the student has proven to be a good employee and good fit for the company.
How Students Qualify for a Work Term
Students who participate in a co-op work term are prepared by a 20-hour course that offers interview training and resume writing, as well as job search skills. All programs include this important training before students leave college and begin looking for employment. For co-op work terms, students:
- must be enrolled in an accredited college (accredited by the PCTIA, BC EQA, and IRCC) on a full-time basis, which means a minimum of 20 or more hours of study a week
- must be 19 years old or older
- must work in a job related to their field of study
- must have passed all their courses with good standing
- if not a Canadian citizen must have a student visa from Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and be in attendance at a designated learning institution (DLI)
- must have a SIN (social insurance number), which can be obtained free by applying to the government
How Work Experience is Assessed
If enrolled in a co-op work program, you are required not only to pass your academic courses, but also to receive a satisfactory report on your work experience. You will be given an assessment half-way through the program, and another when it ends. You will work under the supervision of a qualified person and the college will monitor your progress.
Job placement in a co-op program by a career college follows strict rules and provides valuable work experience for students. Short work terms and practicums are also valuable tools that reinforce a student’s credibility as a good, prospective employee. Usually a student will be given an up-to-date letter of reference from the employer upon completion. These can be very valuable in future job applications.
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