Southeast students fuel the local economy while learning on the job through the cooperative education program

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SOUTH EASTON – Just under a month into the 2022-2023 school year, hundreds of seniors across the South East region are already applying their skills in the trade of their choice.

In the first three weeks of the school year, Southeastern placed 120 of 372 seniors — about a third of the class — in co-op positions.

During their co-op, students alternate school work with paid employment in the technical field of their choice. Students are matched with local businesses, where they learn in depth from professionals.

Seniors placed in cooperative education possess the required professional and technical skills in accordance with the professional frameworks of the Ministry of Elementary and Secondary Education in their field of study and possess the necessary credentials recognized by the industry. Juniors can also qualify for the program in certain situations.

While students work in full-time paid positions in their trades — some students earn up to $25 an hour — they also work for a grade, as employers assess students’ abilities and provide feedback to teachers.

This year, the school collaborated with 50 community partnerships to match students from the school’s 21 job training programs with employers. Junior students who were placed in co-ops last February have also been able to continue their placement over the summer as well as now in their final year.

“Providing a successful cooperative education program to our students is truly a team effort, and the support of the program by our teachers and community partners is vital,” said Professional Supervisor Mary Kobey. “We have over 50 community partnerships that we have worked to match our students with these great opportunities. Our teachers also keep students safe in the workplace and provide support along the way, which is critical to our ability to build relationships with community partners.

All students can benefit from cooperative education, including students from low-income families, students with high needs, or students who speak English as a second language.

“Vocational and technical training is remarkably beneficial for both students and employers,” said vocational training supervisor Jarrod Lussier. “The co-op program provides employers with the new generation of skilled workers they sorely need right now, while providing students with highly skilled, high-paying employment while they are still in high school.

“The work-study opportunities are broad and versatile, giving students the opportunity to practice and hone their skills,” said Darla Leighton, Clinical Placement Facilitator. “Students in our medical-related professional programs can apply and expand what they have learned in various clinical sites, as well as explore other areas that may interest them. »

Many students also move on to full-time careers through their co-op placement. A total of 44 students from the class of 2022 started full-time work with 35 different employers after graduating last June.

“Cooperative education expands our students’ learning in a way that cannot be replicated within the four walls of a school,” said Principal Leslie Weckesser. “Many trades employers struggle to find skilled workers and fill skills gaps, and Southeastern’s administrative team challenged seniors to answer that call. Most vocational schools rate success as having 50% of the senior class in co-op by the time students graduate. Southeastern already has 32% of the senior class placed in the first three weeks of the school year, which speaks to the drive and skills of our students, as well as the needs of employers. We are very proud of all our students who have already risen to the occasion and we look forward to seeing what each of them will accomplish in their field this year. »

Employers interested in participating in this mutually beneficial program are encouraged to email [email protected] and Southeastern will reach out to employers to discuss their needs. Eligible juniors will begin being matched and placed in co-ops in February 2023.

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