Educator Story of Success
John Cochrane, a Cooperative Education Coordinator at Queen Elizabeth High School in Halifax, is very passionate about facilitating career exploration experiences for students in grades 11 and 12. He speaks about the opportunities for personal growth that students have during their work experiences that do not necessarily occur within a classroom environment.
"In coop work placements, students are able to take ownership of their own learning," John Cochrane states, "I have seen students have amazing success with co-op." He asserts that students have a lot of pressure going into grade 12 and often do not have a solid direction on their careers at that point. "Students are having to pay more and more money for post-secondary education. It is important that they have an opportunity to explore different careers while they are still in high school. Students have a chance to find not just a pathway, they have an opportunity to find their pathway."
Mr. Cochrane has seen a big change in the work placements that students are requesting. In the last few years, he has had more and more students requesting to be placed in the skilled trades. "I have students this year who are being placed as welders, electricians, cooks and I even have one young person exploring the boat building trade. Students have heard that there are good job opportunities in the skilled trades."
In fact, when Mr. Cochrane has approached employers in the skilled trades about work placements for students, they have opened their doors wide. "I have had employers tell me that they will take all of the students who are interested in their particular trade. They are experiencing shortages and are eager to get more young people hired. I had employers say to me that if the co-op placement works out, they would be looking to hire students as youth apprentices while they are still in high school. This is a great opportunity for students to start their career early."
John Cochrane has had students move on from co-op placements in the skilled trades, into part-time work, continue on to the Nova Scotia Community College, onto successful apprenticeships and into careers making good money as journeypeople.
He always enjoys seeing his students later on in life, once they have completed the career journey that began with a co-op course in high school. "I have had former students say to me many times that co-op set them on a pathway to discovering a career that they really love."
If you are interested in taking a co-op course, contact the Cooperative Education Coordinator at your school. Taking a co-op course in one of the designated skilled trades means that some of the hours of your work placement will count toward a future apprenticeship!