KELOWNA – Study time for water engineering technology student Dave Swityk could mean hitting the books on campus at Okanagan College. Or it could mean a day on the job taking groundwater samples or stream gauging, or perhaps core logging at a mine site in northern British Columbia.

Co-op programs connect post-secondary students with paid on-the-job work experiences related to their fields of study. Each co-op program requires the student to complete a certain number of work terms and a certain number of academic terms, leading to a certificate, diploma or degree at the undergraduate or graduate level.

By the time Dave gets his diploma in water engineering technology, he will have completed four academic semesters and three work semesters.

Co-op programs give students the opportunity to make some money while they apply their classroom studies in a practical environment, and the work experience establishes connections which help them land jobs once they graduate. The students meanwhile bring new ideas and perspectives to the workplace, and employers get a chance to take a good long look at potential future employees.

Currently, 17 B.C. public post-secondary institutions are running about 174 unique co-op programs in a wide range of areas from business administration, computer information systems and biotechnology to automotive service, economics, kinesiology and creative writing.

To promote awareness of the value of co-operative education, the Province proclaimed March 19 to 23, 2012 as “Co-operative Education Week”.