Benefits of Co-Operative Education

Most, if not all, of ABC contractors indicate that they are still suffering from a lack of available qualified employees, even for entry-level positions. If that describes your company’s current workforce situation, you may want to explore the benefits of Co-Operative Education programs.

ABC partners with many of our region’s high schools and technical schools in the “ABC Careers in Construction Alliance”. Alliance School partners work closely with ABC to plan Career Days, classroom visits (now using job-site videos and virtual presentations) and other events. Many Alliance members sit on our Workforce Development Committee.

We are now developing a pilot program to streamline the steps necessary to participate in a Co-Op program with our Alliance Schools. A benefit for both students and businesses, hiring co-op students is one cost-effective strategy for companies seeking a motivated and qualified workforce. Co-operative Education Program combines theory and hands-on education with real-world work experience.

Benefits to Contractors Hiring Co-op Students

Hiring Co-op students can have a very positive effect on a contractor’s workforce development. The most direct benefit is developing and training students who can turn into future employees. Also, Co-op students may help fill short-term staffing needs.

Co-op placements are temporary positions, meaning no long-term commitments from the employer. In addition, co-op students seek positions in their chosen field of study, so even though these are entry-level employees, they come with relatively significant trade knowledge and basic skills.

A Co-op position can be otherwise described as an “extended interview” and an opportunity for students and employers to evaluate one another. Employers can easily get a sense of the students’ skill set and see the company’s culture matches with the student’s attitude and work ethic. Upon the student’s graduation, if the co-op student and his/her employer see a fit, that student can become a full-time employee who already understand the company’s expectations of him/her… and vice-versa. So, it stands to reason that employers taking the advantage of a co-op program may be training their future employees as well as filling short-term workforce shortages.

Perceived Disadvantages

For contractor’s who have not participated, Co-Operative Education can seem like another program with mountains of time-consuming paperwork, guidelines and compliance mandates, all for a worker who may or may not work out! The truth is there are guidelines to be met and some paperwork to complete, but each Alliance School has a dedicated staff member to streamline the process.

Next Steps

ABC East Pa. Chapter is planning a short but informative live presentation with ABC members currently using this program and representatives from our Alliance Schools. [Date/time TBD] If you would like to attend the presentation or more info on the ABC Careers in Construction Alliance Co-Op Program, please contact Vince Console – VP of Workforce Development at


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