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Work-ready graduates: The role of Co-op programs in labour market success

Adapting to the labour market after post-secondary education and finding a job that matches graduates’ skills, while providing a good standard of living, can be a daunting challenge for new graduates.This Commentary investigates whether work-integrated learning (specifically co-op programs) results in higher incomes or other benefits after graduation.It provides an analysis of National Graduate Survey (2013) data to determine (i) the returns to participation in co-op for different fields of study at both the college and university levels, (ii) differential outcomes based on individual characteristics, and (iii) the effects associated with non-monetary success in the labor market. Estimates suggest that co-op programs have significant benefits for participants in the form of eased transition to the labor market and higher incomes after graduation and that they may play a role in overcoming wage gaps associated with bias toward individual characteristics (race, gender, immigration status).