• Recruitment

  October 19, 2016

Using Co-ops to Meet Seasonal Staffing Demands

Are you having trouble finding good staff for your upcoming busy season? Many employers have turned to co-operative education placements to ensure they have high-quality seasonal employees. Co-op placements allow a post-secondary student to spend up to eight months in a paid position working for you.

Find More Resources

2 min read

The accommodation sector is one of the biggest employers of students from tourism-related programs. Educational institutions in BC usually schedule their cooperative placements so that students are available at peak times.

Larry Iles, former chairperson of the Co-operative and Career Education department at the University College of the Cariboo and provincial co-ordinator for co-op placements, says that in some years he has seen more than 3,000 placements throughout BC due to hospitality, tourism and recreation programs.

One employer taking full advantage of co-op programs is the Coast Harbourside Hotel in Victoria. Coast recruits students from the University of Victoria and Camosun College, and benefits from motivated staff who can stay throughout the high season.


  • Cost-effective recruitment. Each co-op work term is like an extended job interview: a chance to evaluate actual job performance, taking a firsthand look at an individual’s performance with no guarantee of continued employment. Since many employers hire former co-op students, they spend less on recruitment and training and enjoy higher employee retention.
  • Access to resources. Co-op students bring fresh ideas, academic knowledge and effective skills to your workplace. Apart from being available during seasonal and peak periods, these placements provide the flexibility to have regular staff, or the co-op student, work on short-term projects, in addition to providing flexibility to allow regular staff to take vacations during the peak season.
  • Motivated staff. The enthusiasm of co-op employees tends to be high, since they are getting some practical experience in their chosen profession.
  • Enhanced profile. Employers of co-op students have the opportunity to build their profile as employers of choice in the educational community.


  • Provides paid, relevant work experience that future employers want to see when recruiting.
  • Provides the opportunity to learn by doing.
  • Provides source of potential jobs and career opportunities.
  • Helps to decide if a career in the hospitality industry is the right choice.


How much supervision do co-op hires require?
Every situation is different, so the level of supervision depends on the job as well as the student.

How much will it cost me?
Most co-op programs do not charge employers for their services. Co-op student wages are set by the employer and will vary depending on the student’s skill level and company resources. Employers should expect to pay co-op students an equitable wage in keeping with their experience and educational level. Most institutions will be able to provide guidance in determining a salary based on what current co-op students are earning. The employer also provides benefits under the terms of a Collective Agreement or the Employment Standards Act: four per cent vacation pay or time off in lieu should be given during the student’s work term.

Where can I find a nearby co-op program?
For a listing of institutions in BC that offer co-op programs, visit Association of Co-operative Education’s website. go2HR’s Training Directory includes a number of tourism/hospitality programs where work placements, including co-op, are available. Please note that there may be public and private institutions not listed here that have co-op programs. You may also want to contact post-secondary institutions in your community.

Return to top