Lakeland University’s Cooperative Education program continues to add students and new employer partners while also earning community accolades.
Lakeland’s co-op program won the 2019 Insight Innovation Award in the Process Category. Lakeland was one of five organizations that were honored in May with Insight Innovation Awards during the THINC! Conference. A record 38 companies applied for this year’s awards.
Awards were presented in four categories: people, planet, process, and product. One organization also won a special award for entrepreneurial grit.
Lakeland’s co-op program is providing employers with a new workforce solution that also benefits LU students. More than 400 Lakeland students have accessed the program since its inception, and more than 200 companies and organizations are partners with Lakeland.
Lakeland has adopted cooperative education across all of its academic majors as a new way for students to earn a bachelor’s degree. Lakeland students work in fullor part-time – often credit-bearing – positions for partner companies, earning valuable work experience and networking opportunities while continuing to progress towards their degree.
Students in this program are counseled to use their earnings from scholarships and wages to significantly reduce or eliminate post-graduation debt. Students who have a positive employment experience in the area are more likely to stay upon graduation, which means they’re able to contribute to the local economy right away without the burden of excessive student loan debts.
Lakeland’s co-op partner employers have access to a new talent pool at a time when hiring has been challenging, and they can “test drive” possible new employees.
Students in the program enroll in courses that teach soft skills and a variety of other workplace-related skills that employers have identified as important.