We asked UVic Co-op and Career Services
In late April when the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) went on strike, many services offered by the federal government grinded to a halt until the strike ended 12 days later.
While most eyes were turned to passport delays, students who were working for the federal government were left with shortened co-op terms.
It is circumstances like these that leave the 56 per cent of UVic students that choose to do a co-op wondering: what would happen if their employers went on strike during a co-op term? UVic’s Co-operative Education Program and Career Services (Co-op program) says they have plans in place to help students whenever situations like these arise.
Chelsey Evans, the director of operations for UVic’s Co-op program, said in an interview with the Martlet that “What [the Co-op office tries] to do is give students as much information about their options, and then open the doors to the conversation with their co-op coordinators.”
While some students need to complete a co-op term for their degree, and some are provided with co-op as an optional add-on, the requirements and resources available for students are the same.
In a usual work term students must work for 420 hours, or 12 weeks in order to receive credit for their co-op. However when the term is disrupted, the co-op office can make exceptions for students and reduce the minimum hours needed to 315, or nine weeks of full-time work.
Due to the timing of the PSAC strike, which took place between April 19 to May 1, both students ending their co-op terms and students beginning their co-op terms with the federal government faced discrepancies in their co-op schedules.
For students who were ending their co-op terms, they had already completed enough working hours so that the “disruption of work did not impact their ability to get co-op credit for their work terms,” said Evans.
However, for the students who were beginning their work terms and had their start delayed for a few weeks, the co-op office gave them the option to look for other work in case the strike went on for longer than expected.
While the strike didn’t interfere with students’ co-op terms to the point where they weren’t able to get their required hours, the co-op office does have plans in place for instances where students co-op schedules would be entirely disrupted.
In these cases, Evans explained that the co-op office looks “at other creative solutions to be able to allow you to still get credit for their work within that term.” This can be through partnering with the school to do research projects, self made volunteer opportunities that are related to their academic studies, or through a second work opportunity in that same term.
In the event that these options are not viable, students will also be provided with the option to use their already completed work term hours for a co-op they were not able to complete to help them complete another work term.
The most important thing that Evans stressed, is that the co-op office’s number one tactic to help students out is communicating with the students to help them in the way that best fits their individual circumstances.
In the instances where students are navigating through uncertainty with their employers, Evans says that students should ask for help and take advantage of available resources. “We are here to support you, and we’re more than happy to work with you to help you navigate through that uncertainty.”