'The link between higher income and co-op participation levels is relatively strong at both the university and college levels'
Students who enrol in a co-op program generally enjoy advantages over their non-participant peers, but those who also earn degrees in STEM programs benefit more than those who take up courses in the arts, says a new study from C.D. Howe Institute.
More than half (56.2 per cent) of co-op graduates get a first job that’s closely related to their field of education (compared with 40.8 per cent of non-co-op graduates) while 63.6 per cent of them find a first job that’s permanent (compared with 52.6 per cent of non-co-op graduates), according to the Work-Ready Graduates: The Role of Co-op Programs in Labour Market Success study.
Co-op graduates also earn about $47,900 annually (against $45,000 for non-co-op graduates) and 75 per cent of them have jobs that offer extended health benefits (compared to 70 per cent), found the study, based on Statistics Canada’s National Graduate Survey (2013).
“Three years after graduation, the advantage of co-op graduates almost entirely disappears outside university math, computer science, engineering and health programs,” says Rosalie Wyonch, author of the report.
“The link between higher income and co-op participation levels is relatively strong at both the university and college levels. Interestingly, 30 per cent of business and social science college graduates participated in a co-op program, but they did not receive significantly higher average incomes than non-participating peers.”
Differences with minorities
Visible minorities appear to receive income benefits from participating in a co-op program at the university level that are similar to those of their white peers. But at the college level, visible minority co-op participants have lower incomes than visible minority graduates who did not participate.
Women receive wages that are about $4,500 to $6,500 lower than those of their male peers, but participating in a co-op program reduces the disadvantage to about $3,000 lower than male peers who did not participate.
In a separate report, C.D. Howe found that wage gaps persist between men and women, and between white, Indigenous and visible minority groups, despite a wide range of legislation intended to close the gaps.