Tuesday, December 6, 2011

CACEE Toronto 2011

You'd think I only Blog when I'm at a conference...

I also tweet, under the same hash-tag...

There were lot's of thought-provoking chats today, in Toronto, at CACEE both in the meetings and in the networking sessions.

For example...

  • from Janet Ecker, former Revenue Minister, now President of TFSA, there has been a Centre of Excellence created for financial services. Check out: www.explorefinancialservices.com for career guidance suggestions.

  • on the subject of engaging sudents...how about these thought provokers? Grab them in first year and by figuring out What and How, we can influence expectations. Try co-hosting career sessions with Employers...build cred. And as everyone seemed to agree on, find the influencers in the cohort.

  • working with International students, put Education in a bigger perspective for them. Show them that studying, while all-consuming otherwise, is just part of life in Canada and working will introduce a whole, new social network. For their resumes, it is important to show all extracurriculars (and development of these is strongly encouraged), since this will present encourage a greater familiarity for the reader...perhaps the so-called "Canadian experience". Like all students, the candidate needs to "stand out".

  • Paul Smith, executive with CACEE, reports that oil & gas hiring potentials are very high. The oil patch is not finding all the talent they need and they're looking far afield. In a private conversation with Suncor, they report that they are recruiting heavily in Ontario to send talent to Alberta.
  • He went on to add that the average "spend" for a hire, at the grad level is about $3,900. That's everything up to the point where the candidate signs. That's a significant investment and one that the University needs to make sure is accomplished well, in partnership with the employer.
  • There is a strong trend, which may be fulfilled again this coming year, to reduce the number of schools that recruiters target. The number was down about 50% last year. What has come up in place of that effort is the use of Social Media, particularly LinkedIn for posting and ultimately finding talent.

  • The legal impact of using social media for recruiting was addressed by a lawyer from Heenan Blaikie. One element that was emphasized very strongly was that information from social media about an individual should not and cannot be used if it would contravene hiring legislation, even though it appears in a public space. Otherwise, you may have to prove that you did not and could not have used it, which is very difficult to prove.

  • Lauren Friese, from TalentEgg, shared a good deal of information about the recruiting space. Shockingly, only 19% of students indicate that they'll be searching for post-graduate employment in September of their final year. The shock? Employers expect that this is when they will be looking, since it is the first occasion to encounter students, live and in-person. What has been learned from this and should give us pause to reflect is that employers are responding by being active in their promotion of opportunities 24X7X365. Oh, and even more shocking is that 1/3 of students "know" that recruiting begins in September!
  • Most students aren't in attendance or actively engaged in on-campus recruiting events because they don't have time in their schedules. This is quite reasonable...but means that other "events" need to take the place of the info-session or similar activity.

Overall, it was a great event...well-staged by the organizers and it was great to encounter colleagues from across the country, including making some new contacts.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Work and Learning Exchange, Oz and Texas

Judy Kay, Victoria University...Expanding Horizons

Has an arrangement with UT El Paso, whereby there is good deal of overlap in research and ultimately in exchange of students, where there is a work component.

There are a lot of complexities, given the cultural differences between the two student bodies (high Hispanic representation in Texas). In terms of looking at learning outcomes, the influence on the work-study supervisors was very interesting as well.

There was a strong overlap in the philosophies of the two universities and the teams were well matched.

The students were hired by their home institutions and deployed at the other. There has to be a 1:1 ratio and the learning and skillsets needed to be aligned. Visas were an issue (for the Mexican citizens). The detailed employment arrangements were very different between the two schools (benefits and leave). The currency impact was a factor for some of the students also.

Next steps...more reflective practice, more guidelines for supervisors. Determining how to source the students and how to prepare them. Parties need to be prepared for frank negotiations on difficult items.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Assessing Co-op and WIE...metrics

Assessing Co-operative & Work-integrated Education: Models, Methods, & Metrics

(Moderator, Dr DiNardo, Drexel; Bach, Drexel; Fondacarro, Waterloo; Hilpert, Reutlingen)

Drexel ties Co-op learning outcomes to overall institutional learning outcomes. They consider the learning that comes from application of the curriculum in meaningful situations. Internally, they look for means and ways to inform curricular improvements. By working with employers and collaborating on reinforcing for students whey Learning Objectives are important, they can drive the learning that is desired and that may continue from the perspective of life-long learning.

Drexel Core Intellectual and Practical Skills, which number approx. 6, are common and overlap with Faculty, Students, and Employers...Communications, Ethical Reasoning, and Creative and Critical Thinking.

At Waterloo, they're looking at Employer Evaluations of Work-terms as indications of learning. There is a strong focus on assessing competencies (OCAVP...UDLES). As well, the CEAB has 12 requirements for engineers. The independance of the employer in providing the feedback on the learning outcomes makes this more valid. They've subjectively grouped things into six characteristics of life-long learning, communications, professionalism, teamwork, etc. There seems to be a very slight trending upwards through work-terms, in terms of progression. They used "word mapping" to assess the qualitative responses.

ESB (Reutlingen) has joint-degree arrangements with many other institutions around the world,
conducting studies in two countries. There are two practika, Sem. 3 and 6 (diff countries). There is a voluntary internship in the 2nd summer, after the 4th semester. Most students acquire, at minimum, two languages. 20 to 28 weeks is the duration, with compensation from 400 to 2500 Euros.

There are two prep classes before each WT and grades are ultimately assigned on the WTR (with verbal presentation to prof and students) and a submitted "employment reference letter".

There is a strong demand by employers for these students, so now the students are evaluating the employers. Employers can be delisted if they fail to keep up their scores with the students. There is absolutely no sharing of this information with the students or the employers. If there are issues, the faculty address the concerns with the employer. They have given some thought to providing awards to those employers who perform well. This would be a public act and would obviously influence the other stakeholders.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ethics and Values for Co-op Students in the Workplace

Ethics and Values: The need for student awareness of workplace value systems

K. Zegwaard and M. Campbell

This derives from some changes that have taken place at the primary and secondary educational institution levels. "Values are deeply held beliefs about what is important and desirable, expressed through the ways we think and act." (New Zealand, MoE 2007).

Relative to Co-op, students are socialized to the new (?) workplace values. It can be conscious or unconscious. They are obviously expected to adhere to these. Compare to Kohlberg's stages of moral development.

Recommended principle values: integrity, respect, self-motivation, self-confidence, and responsibility. There were many "sub values".

More work is required to identify the values that are best represented in the workplace.

Nonetheless, the learning of the appreciation of ethics is what is necessary. What should students do if their values conflict? What if the workplace value system is flawed? What if there is a disconnect with the stated and actual values in the workplace?

Students need to be able to recognize their own values. The need to be able to recognize the workplace values. they need to be able to reflect on and navigate the workplace ethical issues.

Collaborative Networks in the U.K.

L. Ward, University of Huddersfield; Developing and Engaging in Collaborative Networks to support Student Employability

Working from an organization that we would describe at Guelph as Teaching Support Services. Formerly associated with ASET, where the 3rd year of study is taken in industry of a 4 year degree.

There is an increasing variety of networks, locally, nationally, and internationally that they are
building. All are very non-traditional and developed at the personal level.

Their blog is:


Handling Student Conduct Issues

Handling Student Conduct Issues During Co-operative Education - Best Practices

(Betka...Moderator; Barton, Stockman-Baer, and Gambescia)

The intent of this presentation is to offer means to address student conduct issues.

The First Response Philosophy says that the student should first exhaust the immediate means of resolution between the parties involved. Good organizational practice holds that those closest to, most invested in, and most familiar with a problem are in the best position to solve the problem. Fundamental precepts include: students must have an avenue for communicating a concern, they must receive due process, fair treatment (without bias), be reviewed with care in a timely way, and then be communicated to, explaining the rationale for any decision made by the employer and the Co-op office, and the office and the employers must be open to suggestions for quality improvements of any policy, procedure or practice.

The student should expect that policies and procedures are developed from well thought out rationale, are clearly stated, accessible (including for review), and promulgated with support to gain understanding. And of course, fairly enforced. A given student may be subject to policies from any of the following authorities: government, university, college, degree program, profession, and the employer. The university should have procedures to identify, review, adjudicate, and remediate any transgression.

Assessment of the student's performance is one of the most important responsibilities we have (as Faculty Advisor, as Co-op Coordinator, as employer's supervisor). Is there a mechanism to assess a student's understanding of the expectations they are held to? We should ask ourselves the following questions. Where are these expectations presented? Are they accessibe? How are they presented? How are they reinforced?

Supervisors should consider the following questions. What did you observe? How do you characterize this performance? What are the risks if this continues? How can the student remediate, if at all?

In the U.S., the number one reason for students being dismissed from a workplace is that they...(drumroll)...don't show up!!

In a formal review, determine the following. What were the defined expectations? Who is making the assessment of the student? Were appropriate assessment procedures followed? What was documented? Are there extenuating circumstances? Note that there are a gradation of concerns that a student may hold, from seeking clarification, to making a complaint, to a formal grievance, and potentially an appeal of a grievance settlement.

A helpful adage to consider is that, if you have seen one student issue...you have seen one, discrete student issue. No two are the same.

And it would be very beneficial to encourage students to seek out their employer's codes of conduct and policies with regard to performance.

Keynote from J&J, at WACE Thursday

Keynote Presentation: Maximizing the Benefits of co-operative Education at J&J

Dominic J. Caruso, VP Finance and CFO

Mr. Caruso is a former Co-op student (accounting at Drexel). He seemed to have chosen Co-op to verify his career choice for himself. Through good mentors at work and good advising through the Co-op office, he gained a better understanding of the variety and complexity of the business and the profession.

There are 114,000 employees at J&J. Engineering is fairly big at J&J...perhaps there's room for some BMEs?

Co-op students are more valuable and are engaged more deeply than interns (summer students). They bring more experience to the Co-op role and that experience is valued at the time of full-time hiring, being preferred as they stand-out. In fact, their retention rate is higher because they are making an informed decision about J&J. Significantly, they see higher performance and faster promotion rates for Co-op students.

There are seven, top-tier schools that they use (Drexel, Rutgers, etc.). They are looking for talent in Commerce, IT, engineering, etc. 40% of the 1500 new hires were Co-op students. They have noticed that there has been a decline in the number of acceptances for Co-op offerings recently. One theme from focus groups is that students are pursuing internships rather than Co-op. There is a perceived benefit to get through the Bachelor's degree and get onto Master's level study, faster.

Johnson & Johnson are very willing to work with Faculty to improve curriculum. But, they're not too sure what "real world experience" means.

In response to a question from P. Jarvie (UW), Mr. Caruso replied that J&J values students who have had multiple opportunities and experiences and therefore the more familiar model of Co-op is recognized as beneficial. They're quite satisifed when a student chooses J&J after seeing other experiences.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Employer Panel...the Talent Pipeline

The Talent Pipeline: Corporate Executives Discuss the Strategic Value of Co-op and WIL

companies represented: Merck, GM, RIM, Hilton, Lockheed Martin


What's more important...GPA or experience?

...neither...they just get you in the door. Who are you? Are you collaborative? Will you fit with our culture?

...past performance is a predictor of future abilities and GPA shows that you can succeed.


Is it more important to hire from a Co-op school, culturally?

...for RIM, yes.

...for Merck, yes, also. The reason being, it's easier to convert these students to full-time hires.

...for GM, these students are more able to differentiate themselves.


How should Universities prepare their students? (from Sweden)

...students seem to have difficulty working in the corporate world. If it were possible to create a learning space for students (tip sheets, classroom experiences, confidentiality discssions), this would have recognizable benefits. Even something as simple as email etiquette is important.

Expectation levelling would be worthwhile, also. For example, corporate entities don't pay for lunch and commuting time.

...collaboration in classrooms and with other students in project work seems to be recognized as beneficial.


Is the internship program integrated with the talent management program?

...Merck says yes, including both succession planning and the full involvement of MBA candidates in rotations around the world to understand and learn from their business.

...GM says that if candidates can learn from one situation and apply it in another, which is demonstrable even in a Co-op work-term, then it supports their TMP.

...Lockheed says, students should be aware that they are always being observed.


What are best practices for international exchange? (from Austria)

...from RIM, the issue is work-authorization and immigration policies. The value is apparent...the cost is prohibitive.


What are your best practices for promoting yourselves on-campus? (from Canada...guess who).
...GM is reevaluating.

...Lockheed, use professors, be on social media, use former students (go for the halo effect),

...RIM, be on-campus and be in-person...paying Ambassadors to be there. Unfortunately at 10% of the workplace population being co-ops, the conversion rate is very low for full-time recruits. So, they are evaluating what works best...don't have to do much in Ontario...but do have work to do in other countries.


What characterized your best Co-op student and how did you challenge them?

...RIM, we have great technical talent. It's their interpersonal skills and communication abilities that distinguish them.

...from Merck, being able to craft something innovative with little or no guidance is distinguishing our current Co-op student.

...GM, a student who is involved in extracurriculars and can multitask is what we're after.

...at Lockheed, they welcome the problem-solver and the willingness to tackle a difficult situation.

U.S. Labour Market Observations...Plenary Session

(from the Plenary Session, delivered by the Assistant Secretary of the Federal Dept. of Labor, Jane Oates, and Dr. Paul Harrington, Prof., Center for Labor Market and Policy, Drexel)

Note, that there are 345 delegates in attendance from 22 countries.

During the recession, the decrease in the employment to population ratio of 16 to 19 year olds went from 37 to 28%. For those with Bachelor degrees, it went from 81% to 75%.

Dr. Harrington went on to speak about "mal-employment", where graduates are not in employment situations relevant to their area of study. For Bachelor-degreed students from engineering, math, or computer science it was 18%. In Humanities, Commerce, Arts, and Science it was greater than 30%.

The mean annual earnings for the mal-employed drops dramatically from about $68k/a (engineering) to $37k/a. The same is true for Masters-level graduates.

There are in other words, earnings premiums for finding relevant employment. It can be as much as 86% for engineering versus 17% for non-relevant roles. In business disciplines, it can be as much as 65% versus 15%.

Another observation, relevant to Co-op and building relations with employers, the Universities are welcome, stable sources of talent that are trusted. Employers do not put as much trust in individual letters of reference. They want to build long-term relationships in order to have predictable access to the labour market. This can mean that they need to have relationships that afford the potential to speak about student candidates with university personnel, where the longer-term relationship is paramount. They wish to know that they can learn about candidates from the university and know that the guidance they will get is secondary to sustaining the relationship. That's a different way of saying that they want us to know our students and "guide" employers accordingly. This is, in my opinion, a difficult and challenging situation for all of us on many fronts.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Researching under WACE, Tuesday afternoon

I managed to catch the first hour of a 3.5 hour presentation on advancing research in WIL, which went on to discuss "how to" for practitioners who are interested but not currently pursuing research options. Many good ideas came out, but the constraints of time, money, and institutional support were identified as barriers. Some alternative approaches were brainstormed, including piggybacking on other research(ers), ensuring political support internally in order to generate the necessary resources, and generally elevating the visibility through promoting WIL as a benefit to the institution and all stakeholders. A very thorough introduction and set of guidelines to ethical, academic research was offered by Maureen Drysdale (and Aneta Filiciak) of U. Waterloo.

If there were three good suggestions, they were keep thinking about questions, start reading the journals (CEIA and APJ), and start involving others in your institution.

WACE Research Ideas, Tuesday morning

Notes from WACE, Philadelphia

Roundtable Discussion on Co-operative and Work-Integrated Education Research (Waller, Lumsden, Drysdale...Waterloo)

A consortium of researchers came together in Victoria, in 2009 (WACE). They met yesterday and now invite others to join in the pursuit of research into Co-op. From that meeting there were four basic outcomes, with interests in Theoretical Frameworks, Economic Development, Boundary Spanning, etc.

From WACE 2009, there were categorizations of research areas (smallest to largest, from 101 to 206 presentations): student assessment, student practice, employer assessment and practice, and institution practice. Today, we followed moderators for the different areas, to discuss each of these areas. To be considered, what needs to be researched, how should it be carried out, who should do the research, and what are the implications of the research? The notion on the floor is that by identifying the areas of interest, further groupings of researchers who are interested in each of these matters will come together to pursue the questions and research.

At the Employer Research Roundtable, some of the following questions and observations were made (from New Zealand to South Africa to Cincinnati)...

>> What is the educational obligation of the employer, in support of WIL (work-integrated learning)? Do we need to do more to assist?

>> What is it that employers are looking for in a graduating student, that could be developed in the student (or the program), relative to their employability?

>> What influence does "professional accreditation" play in employer's decision to participate in
WIL. Do they view this as giving back or paying forward?

>> Can we characterize the last 20% of students (to be employed, each semester), who represent 80% of the effort by the Co-op Dept.?

>> There was some discussion around soft skills, the willingness and ability to learn, and something called "learning agility" (Lominger) and the resultant desireability of a student in a hiring proccess.

>> What influence are employers bringing to curriculum change and reform? And what role did Co-op have in this change?

From some of the other roundtables, there were many, many different research ideas, questions, and proposals brought forward. The practice of assessment is widely important across various activities of concern from the points of view of the practitioner, the faculty, and the employer/supervisor.

Observations and Learning from WACE 2011

I'm attending the World Association for Co-operative Education at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, USA. I'd like to offer for your review what I'm seeing, hearing, and learning as I join in with practitioners from around the world.

I'll put up various postings as the days proceed.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

HR Ontario...at EWO

Jody Hendry, who manages the post-grad internships program for the Ontario government, the summer student programs, and now is piloting a process for streamlining the Co-op hiring processes for the government over the next 12 months, spoke to us about the upcoming program and took questions and recommendations from the assembled EWO group.

Some of the operating parameters are that they need to respect the existing agreements with OPSEU, etc., but that there is still some space to hire about 200 students per term. Going forward, they expect to be guided by the EWO website with respect to contact and program information, so it will be important for EWO schools to maintain this information closely.

The pilot will look like this: generic jobs will be posted for Co-op students. Once the applicants have submitted though, there will not be direct access for institutions to the progress of the hiring decision, until and unless the hiring manager gets in touch with the institution. The aim is to improve transparency and consistency, however. So, some recommendations on how to interact with the institutions were brought forward, e.g., putting a Coordinator's name and contact info on the student's application form...for the hiring manager's benefit. Unfortunately, timelines for decisions will not be readily available. Everything is up to the individual hiring manager.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

More from EWO...unpaid work

As a matter of fact, there are situations where students and companies enter into agreements where they both benefit, and there is no (or little) remuneration. The student gets a reference, with relevant experience and the employer gets the talent and the outcomes. It's often unconventional, with the student coming to work when they're available (often they may be working unrelated roles so that they can afford to pursue the unpaid role).

The University of Waterloo (thank you, Rocco) is examining their policies and approaches to unpaid positions and trying diligently to respect the CAFCE guidelines. They're bringing creativity to how to identify "remuneration", the CAFCE term, such that honoraria, stipends, equity positions, hardware (tools and devices) provision, etc. would be recognized. It's relatively critical to ask the employer what they would have done (would the work have gone undone?) if there was not a student available in the so-called unpaid role.

Questions about insurance for the student and the Ontario Tax Credit (whether or not the amount is enough or if awareness is sufficient) were brought forward and it seems we may not have wide understanding and clarity on where we're at on these points).

Notes from the (Ryerson) EWO Conference

Beautiful days to be in Toronto...it's warm and sunny and we can get out in the amazing green spaces that dot the Ryerson campus.

Our morning began with a talk from Kelly Johnson, a social media trainer from London, who spoke about the various social media and dashboards that integrate them. A strong takeaway was that you "must understand your audience". There are various ways to participate and no right way to participate, but some are better than others for different intended outcomes.

Whether you're a lurker or a keener in any one of them, being familiar with them can't hurt. Creating a temporary presence or identity before you commit fully will allow you to familiarize yourself before you make a big commitment...and it is a commitment, of time and energy and creativity.

So identify your target audience, establish your brand, set up 2 or 3 tools, and start increasing traffic through word-of-mouth and through maintaining and developing client promotions.

With regard to Facebook, it is definitely a social space first, but with the addition of a new module called BranchOut, they're attempting to play where LinkedIn is staked out. That being the case, Facebook can be a more friendly way to ask someone to connect with you on LinkedIn. Several watchouts with Facebook...watch your privacy settings. They can change without notice as Facebook evolves new functionalities.

Two further ideas to ponder: one, you don't "pay" to play with these tools, you play to play. It takes that kind of energy and approach. And second, there are "dashboard" tools like Spredfast,
which allows simultaneous monitoring of all of the tools AND you can have multiple people accessing the same, corporate sites.

Twitter wasn't discussed too thoroughly...but clearly is big on the user/adoption front. Hey, we've even secured a posting through Twitter.

Richard Wiggers, the Director of HEQCO (dot ca), spoke to us about some research underway relative to students, experiential work, and their intersection points.

Just some of the many, many nuggets he offered (see the full report, which will be available


  • high school students are taking fewer and fewer part-time jobs and this is negatively impacting their "experience" quotient...which presents future concerns for practitioners and employers.

  • 64% of upcoming grads (baccalaureate) anticipate going for further credentials...perhaps (?) because they aren't confident of their employment potential (most especially if they have not had chances in work-integrated learning (WIL)). Unfortunately, without relevant experience, this may improve their employability.

  • 78% of students in WIL cite the EXPERIENCE as the main driver in making this choice, not PAY!

  • It sounds like a good read...Intern Nation, by Ross Perlin...as it reveals tidbits like the 10s of 1000s of student/interns who work illegally in the U.S., because it's become the new norm. Part of that new norm comes about because Co-op can't deliver all of the students that would satisfy the demand. Part of that is attributed to erosion of faculty support and funding to Co-op. And now, the result, which is that 29% of Co-op opportunities in the U.S. are unpaid. Let's not let that happen in Canada.

Friday, January 28, 2011

First Day of Interviews

So much goes on behind the scenes to make career opportunities blossom for university students. There's a great team developing opportunities with the employer community and others dedicated to the logistics of bringing the parties together.

The bloom opened today. We've got a full house of employers and students who are all trying to make the best decisions for themselves.

It brings a real refreshment to the air through the energy that exudes from the overall excitement. Yes, students may be more on-edge than employers since they look at the mountain from the bottom, while the hiring people feel it through their obligation and willingness to make the right selection and keep their team moving up the mountain.

At the risk of forcing the metaphors together, everyone should recognize that flowers in the meadow on the mountain are what it's about.