You scratch my back ...

Bartering is as old as commerce and, in spite of our super-high-tech economy and culture, it’s still around in one form or another.

If, for instance, you run a small business and don’t quite yet have the budget to hire a qualified, full-time employee to handle certain vital office tasks, a co-op student may be a smart solution – your business gets help from an idealistic employee with fresh ideas and s/he has an opportunity to gain real-world work experience.

It’s a pretty fair trade and could be a match made in heaven.

Consider these benefits to hiring co-op students from the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education:

· Co-op students are ideal to fill temporary need during staff leaves or for short-term projects.

· Employing co-op students can reduce recruitment costs by vetting students for future hiring.

· By hiring co-op students, you can provide valuable feedback to their institutions of learning and have a say on what and how they’re being taught.


As with any hiring – co-op student or otherwise – it’s always a good idea to perform due diligence and keep some factors in mind before making any commitments:

1. Check your local college or university career centres to see if they offer co-op programs.

2. Remember that most co-op terms last about four months, coinciding with an academic term.

3. Outline the scope of work you need you co-op student to accomplish and keep a backup list of additional tasks in case he or she catches on fast.

4. Limit your co-op student’s access to mission critical information until you’re comfortable s/he can be trusted with confidential information.

5. Define and explain your expectations to ensure both you and the student are rewarded by the experience.

Your business may also be able to benefit from a tax credit for hiring a co-op student. Check with the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRDC)  for more information.

Have you already hired a co-op student? Tell us about the experience!

By Adam

June 23, 2010