Co-operative Education

Co-operative Education (Co-op) is a high school course where students develop skills, explore career pathways, and combine classroom instruction with an 80-hour co-op placement in the community.

Students learn about the realities of the work world, helping them become more confident and better prepared to pursue post-secondary and career pathways. Many employers across Nova Scotia welcome students into their workplaces, where students explore a career first-hand and benefit from mentorship.

Co-operative Education for Students and Families 

Co-operative Education provides an opportunity for students to explore a career through an authentic workplace environment, helping them to make decisions about education and career pathways.  

Co-op work placements may take place during or after school hours, on weekends, and during vacations, depending on availability and the nature of the career being explored.  Students are eligible to take Co-op as long as they are 16 years of age or 15 and in grade 11.

Benefits of Co-op

  • Make connections between school and work and explore a career of interest before determining plans for post-secondary education, training, or employment.
  • Develop transferable skills required in the workplace and valued by employers.
  • Earn a high school academic credit while gaining practical community-based learning experience.
  • Enhance development as citizens who actively engage in and contribute positively to communities.

Students learn valuable skills such as: 

  • résumé and cover letter writing
  • interview techniques
  • goal setting
  • workplace health and safety
  • workplace ethics

To learn more about Co-op and how you can register, contact your school’s Co-op teacher.

More details on Co-operative Education courses can be found at 

Safety in Co-op 

Safety is first and foremost in Co-operative Education.

Prior to undertaking a work placement students must learn about workplace health and safety and employer and employee responsibilities. Students must have successfully achieved the outcomes of pre-placement instruction and met all workplace health and safety outcomes. 

Any teachers and non-teaching personnel responsible for securing and supervising placements must assess the health and safety environment of the potential placements and recommend only those placements that are appropriate.  This is done through a pre-placement assessment. 

Students engaged in Co-operative Education placements are covered by the School Insurance Program (SIP).

Schools are also governed by provincial and regional/board policies and guidelines. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Co-operative Education (Co-op) involves a planned workplace experience for which a high school credit is earned. 

The experience offers significant opportunities for learning in a workplace/community setting to enable students to explore and acquire skills in a career, occupation, or job. 

Co-operative Education may be offered as half-credit or full-credit courses.  Half credit courses include a 40-hour placement while full credit courses include an 80-hr placement.

Co-op requires an application, community and teacher references and an interview/discussion with the Co-op teacher before a student can be registered in the course. 

To participate in a Co-operative Education community-based placement, a student must be 16 years of age or be 15 and in grade 11 before the Co-op placement begins and be ready for the independent nature of community placements. 

The Co-operative Education course consists of an in-school component and a placement component. 

The classroom component consists of pre-placement instruction, weekly reflective practice, and ongoing instruction that supports the student throughout the course and work placement.  The classroom component focuses on career development, workplace readiness, and workplace health and safety.
Co-operative Education placements are available in many types of work settings, reflecting the wide range of student interests and abilities. Work placements may take place during or after school hours, on weekends, and during vacations. This will depend upon employer and student availability, and the nature of the career explored.

Cooperative Education is intended to be flexible in nature. 

Students can be scheduled in either semester or over the school calendar year. The flexibility of co-op placements supports students in fulfilling placement requirements during the school day, on evenings or weekends, or outside the school calendar. This is often dependent upon the partnership and the experiences in which the students are engaged. 

Co-operative Education should be available to any student in high school who has reached the age of 16 or 15 and in grade 11 and has met placement readiness requirements for the independent nature of credit delivery.  

Readiness requirements apply to all students, including students with Individualized Program Plans. If students meet the readiness requirements for the independent nature of Co-operative Education or have access to the support required for a successful placement (e.g., a job coach) on-site, they would be eligible to undertake the work placement.

The community host’s evaluation contributes to the student’s grade; however, the final grade is the supervising teacher’s responsibility. 

A student’s final grade for the Co-operative Education course is based on the achievement of the identified learning outcomes.

Co-operative Education for Employers

As a Co-operative Education (Co-op) host and mentor, you can impact the course of young people’s lives while investing in your future labor force.  This is an opportunity for you to invest in students who just may be your future employees or colleagues. 

Co-operative Education (Co-op) is a high school course that provides an opportunity for students to explore a career through real-world experience.  

Co-op is a partnership that includes students, teachers, and employers who provide mentorship and on-the-job learning experiences. 

It gives you the opportunity to: 

  • renew your workforce by sharing your skills and knowledge to help youth make informed choices to prepare for education and career pathways 
  • build a strong economy and increase Nova Scotia’s skilled labour market 
  • contribute to your community 
  • access student innovation and fresh perspectives that can spark new ideas 

The school provides:

  • students who have an interest in your work environment and are eager to learn from your expertise 
  • safety training such as First Aid, OH&S, and WHMIS 
  • insurance for students while they are at your workplace 

Students are not paid for hours they complete while at a Co-operative Education placement. 

Students may be paid if registered as a Pre-apprentice or Youth Apprentice with the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency or they are taking part in an EECD approved sector program or have been approved as an intern by their region/board.  Refer to the region/board for more details.

Co-op students are at least 16 years of age or 15 and in grade 11 and must successfully complete the in-school component of co-op and meet readiness criteria before a placement begins. 

Students are matched with employers in a work environment that aligns with their interests and goals. 

This 80-hour co-op placement can be stretched over a period, usually for one semester while the student is attending school.  Placement time can be completed during regular school hours, evenings, weekends, holidays, or summer and will depend upon employer and student availability and the nature of the career being explored.

Students are covered by student accident insurance while on a Co-operative Education work placement. 

A certificate of insurance showing commercial general liability insurance coverage through the School Insurance Program (SIP) can be provided by the teacher upon request.


Have questions? Get in touch.