The idea is that students prepare for a simulated work experience. This is not meant to be a baby-sitting job by any means for the employer. Students are expected to, as much as possible, work the hours that regular employees work. In other words; it does not have to happen between the hours of 9:00 and 3:00....in the day, or even on week days. Holidays, in-services, school closures do not necessarily interfere with co-op work schedules. Students maybe starting their 12 hr shift at 7:00 in the morning at the Inverness Regional Hospital, and some may find themselves working to 3:00 AM with the RCMP. It all depends on the employer, the student, the work and what can be reasonably managed by all. It is an opportunity for the student to experience the real world scenario in a career of their choice……remembering finding out what is not for you is just as important as confirming what is. What better way to find out than to actually work as a virtual employee for an employer? There is no salary or liability expense to that employer, who, through their time and some training investment, may expect a return through the work produced or performed by the student. It’s supposed to be a win/ win connection. The student doesn't get paid in dollars, but in points and they also benefit in the opportunity to build bridges for summer and/or part time work….perhaps kick start their career, and sell themselves as a keeper to an employer who may want to invest more.
As a virtual employee comes the responsibility. The student plays a big role in developing a schedule and is responsible in keeping to the schedule and/or properly report and make changes to that schedule. Things happen and things come up. However, it is a very serious situation when a student is not responsibly adhering to the work place expectation in regards to time and absenteeism. That is to say:
The agreed starting time for work is not the time of arrival. Arrival time should be a min of 15 minutes prior to work time.
Once an greed schedule if formulated, the student is expected to be at work at the said times and dates unless proper notification has been given.
The student can negotiate schedule changes with an employer, but not without consultation with the teacher
It is the responsibility of the student to give as much notice as possible to the employer and the teacher for any missed time.
Missed time and schedule changes without proper notice or for reasons not deemed appropriate will have an adverse affect on the student's grade.
Students that are found to not being at work during the agreed time and without proper notice will be marked unexcused absence from school and that absence will compound regular school absence under the attendance policy.
Chronic missed time or lack of proper notification of missed time and/or schedule changes could lead to placement withdrawal of the student
Do not assume that Holidays, in-services, school closures are automatic days off work. Students must check with the employer in regards to company policy in regards to holidays, negotiate and report in advance any and all changes in work schedules, including holidays.
In the case of students that provide a schedule of availability to an employer and the teacher, rather than an actual work schedule, the same rules apply. Employers may request dates that students either prefer, or are simply available to work. Once they are submitted, the employer can use this list to develop a work schedule. It is not written in stone and it works both ways. Things do come up and things will change. It is expected that if available days become unavailable, proper notification will be given. If unavailable days become available, notice can be given there as well. It takes a lot of time and effort to schedule people. It is expected that changes are for good reasons, with notice and are the exception. You must convince your your host and your teacher that you are going to miss work for a good reason by explaining just why you can not make it. "Something came up" does not cut it!!
Students do not make schedule changes without consulting the employer and the teacher and making sure all responsible authorities are notified.
- Excused Student absenteeism has to be sanctioned by the co-coordinating
- Student may not weight all the consequences of the change. (for example; a student partnered with another student in Drama changed her days without authorization. Her partner was also on co-op, Now they were away on different days. They could not get together to practice and their drama mark was affected.
- Co-op checks are random and unannounced for good reasons. (travel costs may be incurred for little or no reason.
- Employers plan and develop expectations. They could delay things thinking the student is simply late, or quickly become disenchanted with irresponsible workers and perhaps the program.
- In case of an emergency, people need to know where to expect to contact the students.
- If a student doesn't show up at work, someone responsible would have to be sure that nothing happened on the way to work.
- It is simply the ethical, responsible and courteous thing to do.
- The student may have a misconception of what is generally accepted as a good reason to miss work
Good reasons to miss work may include:
Dental and medical appointments
Serious illness and/or death in the family
To participate in a school sport or school event
To attend class that you can not afford to miss
Remember that missing work is expected to be an exception. Work is can be an inconvience. Missing work to complete a school assignment that is due, but was issued for some time, is not deemed a good reason!
The Co-ops are individually constructed to best suit each student's and employer’s circumstances. Generally speaking and for management purposes, most co-ops fall under 2 different scenarios;
Students registered in regular class, subjects in school
Full time co-op students, those only registered in co-op classes
The students enrolled in other courses at Dalbrae that are doing a Co-op can very likely have varied schedules unfolding at different times of the year to others in their class. However; if it doesn't make any difference to the employer and the student, and the placement permits, they will likely be scheduled for Thursdays and Fridays for six weeks. If a student is concerned about missing 2 days in row, they could opt for one day a week for 12 weeks for students, they maybe able to take advantage of weekends, holidays, evenings or even a selected availability schedule as long as the placement and the employer is willing to accommodate the student request. The company may not be open on weekends and so on. Some times an employer can only facilitate a specific schedule like in the case a student working with a local surveyor on a "on call basis" as a result of being dependant on the weather or in a situation like work with DFO and that has to respond to safety conditions of the day to day operations. Some work is seasonal, which adds yet another restriction.
The second scenario could resemble the above, but is more likely to be a condensed schedule that is better suited for full time co-op students that are scheduled for at least 3 different three week placement's in a semester. They are available for full time, which commonly turns out to a 2 1/2 -3 week placement based on a 8 hr/5 day week. These co-ops often unfold back to back and could result in the student actually completing a full semester by mid term. Student's who had already completed their high school requirements and often have been already accepted to post secondary institutes take advantage of this opportunity. Such was the case with one individual going into Early Childhood Development at Mount St. Vincent. This Co-op pioneer did a 3 week placement with Inverness/ East Richmond Early Childhood Intervention and 2 different placements at Whycocomagh Education Centre. Her employers are still singing praises of her work and the Co-op program. Another, attending Environmental Science at Saint Mary’s, did her 1st placement at Fraser’s Mills Fish Hatchery. She will be following up with a placement at Strathlorne Tree Nursery, then The Dept. Of Natural Recourses In Whycocomagh. Both these girls are getting a tremendous jump start to their careers. They are acquiring the things that get in the way of young people getting their experience, references, perhaps connects to paid work and so on.We have a young man who did a co-op at VanZutphen Contractors who never left. They are actually sponsoring his heavy duty mechanic apprenticeship. We actually had students on a ship for as many as 10 days straight. It's all about being real. Full time co-op Students can also schedule themselves to work a few days a week and while they do their co-op the other few days a week. Once they have the in school requirements completed, they are not bound to regular school attendance. The flexibility of co-op allows the student schedule to get a head start on a career and in life just as long as they fulfill the terms and conditions for each placement as explained in the Co-op Requirement Breakdown.