Traditionally, the University of Cincinnati’s celebrated cooperative education programme has served as a bellwether for the overall economy.
And if that tradition holds true, it’s good news for the economy.
That’s because UC’s placement of co-op students with employers is – at this point – rebounding from dips experienced in fiscal years 2009 and 2010.
In just released figures spanning fiscal year 2011, UC placed 95.6 per cent of its students enrolled in mandatory co-op programs with employers. That’s up from fiscal years 2009 and 2010 when this co-op placement figure dropped to 94 per cent and 93.1 per cent respectively after years of “normal” placement rates between 97-99 per cent in mandatory programmes.
Better yet, in fiscal year 2011, UC co-op students earned a collective $ 43 million, averaging close to $ 7,800 per co-op term worked. That’s up from a collective $ 38.6 million earned by UC co-op students in fiscal year 2010.
And in the 10-year period from 2001 to 2011, collective earnings by UC co-op students have grown by more than 70 percent. Cooperative education or co-op as it’s commonly called is the practice wherein students alternate quarters or semesters in the classroom with quarters or semesters of paid work related directly to their majors. UC houses the world’s oldest cooperative education programme, having founded the practice of co-op in 1906, and now houses the largest co-op programme at any US public university.
A sign of things to come?
According to Kettil Cedercreutz, Director of UC’s Professional Practice Division, co-op typically serves as a leading-edge indicator of where the national unemployment rate is heading.
He explained: “Co-op students are usually the first laid off because no employer can keep co-op students on the payroll when laying off permanent staff. Alternately, when an employer is testing the waters regarding hiring, co-op students are the first in the door. It’s a way of adding smart, specialised staff but without a permanent commitment, since a student coming in the door this quarter will be heading back to the classroom next quarter.”
And UC co-op students are typically entrusted with a lot of responsibility – whether helping to launch rockets off the California coast, designing skyscrapers in Beijing or developing earthquake-resistant construction methods in India.
“These students represent a lot of bang for the buck. As such, they’re a safe bet for employers testing the hiring waters,” said Cedercreutz Rising enrollments mean greater demand for co-op placements
In raw numbers, UC placed more than 3,000 students in 5,632 co-op placement jobs with about 1,500 employers around the globe in fiscal year 2011, which ended on 30 June 2011. (Most students co-op multiple times every year).
This number is expected to grow. With rising enrollment and student interest in real-world resume building, student demand for cooperative education work experience is also growing, even in non-mandatory co-op programmes at UC.
For instance, student participation in non-mandatory co-op programmes at UC grew by almost 10 per cent in fiscal 2011. The highest demand in a non-mandatory programme was seen in UC’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business, where student participation in co-op grew by 24 per cent in fiscal year 2011.
Overall, between 2001 and 2011, participation by students in UC’s co-op programme rose by 30 per cent. (Source: http://www.uc.edu)