Published on October 5, 2021

New Co-op Education Partnership a Win-Win

While much of our attention over the past year-and-a-half has been focused on navigating through one of the worst health crises in nearly a century, a new partnership quietly launched in February 2021 to the mutual benefit of both businesses in St. Albert and post-secondary business students. 

The City of St. Albert’s Economic Development department partnered with NAIT and the St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce to promote the school’s Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Co-op Program. A win-win for all involved, hiring these students is a cost-effective strategy for small businesses looking for qualified staff wanting to apply their classroom knowledge to a work setting and gain valuable hands-on experience. 

“The program is open to all businesses in St. Albert, including non-profit and government organizations,” says Kennedy Clayton, City of St. Albert Business Development Co-op Coordinator. “Businesses are also eligible for many subsidies which significantly reduces the costs associated with hiring a student. For example, students receive $10,000 on average per four-month placement. With subsidies, the organization may receive up to $7,500 which requires them to pay only $2,500 or $4.76 per hour to hire a student for a term.”

From filling temporary or short-term staffing needs to providing current employees with an opportunity to gain leadership experience by mentoring a student, hiring a co-op student provides businesses with many advantages. 

man showing woman something on paper

Woman writing on white board while 4 people watch

To date, the majority of placements, ranging from four to 12 months, have been in the field of marketing; however, NAIT BBA students come from the following areas of study:

  • Accounting
  • Entrepreneurship & Innovation
  • Finance
  • Human Resource Management
  • Marketing
  • General Business
  • Management

“Work experience is incredibly valuable – especially as students start their careers,” says Clayton. “Students not only learn valuable skills, but also what they like or dislike in a particular industry, which helps shape their career and gives them an advantage over other candidates post-graduation.”

Women shaking hands in an office hallway

According to Clayton, nearly a third of NAIT BBA students have received permanent offers of employment from their co-op employers and starting salaries for graduating co-op students was an average of five to 10 per cent higher than non-co-op students.

“All students in the BBA program are eligible for the co-op program and can complete their first work placement as early as their second year of study. Students are required to apply and interview for the positions – NAIT does not place the students,” she adds.
Clayton credits her own university co-op experience for kick-starting her career. “I graduated from the University of Alberta in 2015 and was so thankful for my practicum placement as I was immediately hired full time. I am confident it would have been much more difficult to land my first job post-graduation had I not had that work experience,” she says. “I love my job and enjoy supporting small businesses and finding ways to help them be successful.”

For more information on NAIT’s BBA Co-op Program, contact

Please note: the photos in this article were taken pre-COVID-19 pandemic.

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Last edited: October 6, 2021