Employer Perspectives on Secondary School Cooperative Education in a Southern Ontario City in Canada
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Despite 2 Ontario Ministry of Education policy documents which mandate that regular program effectiveness surveys be completed in secondary school co-op programs, research was either not occurring or data were not being made available. A lack of co-op research also existed at the postsecondary level. The primary reason for this study was to determine the perspectives of current secondary school co-op employers in the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) and to identify any program strengths as well as any areas in which improvement can be made. A secondary aim of the study was to discover the reasons that some employers decline to participate in the co-op program, and why other employers decide to discontinue their co-op partnerships. An online survey was utilized with 2 Likert scales and open-ended questions to solicit responses from the 100 participants. The findings from this study strongly supported previous secondary and postsecondary co-op research. Overall, the HWDSB co-op program was found to be very strong, and employer satisfaction very high. There were, however, areas in which improvement could be made. Although most employers felt supported by institutions and felt that expectations were clearly communicated and were reasonable, there was evidence that many employers perceived a lack of institutional support which included factors such as communication, student placement and fit, and institutional responsiveness. In addition, some employers felt that students were underprepared for the workplace and lacked basic employability skills such as dependability and responsibility.