Work-integrated learning is changing with the times

New program will offer four month one-term work projects, with mentorship support from industry partners

Waterloo, ON, April 15, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The University of Waterloo is launching a new style of work-integrated learning specifically designed to help co-op students seeking their first work term during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on the analysis of 71,000 job descriptions - research conducted by Waterloo’s Work-Learn Institute – Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) identified the top skills in most demand by employers across all industries during this time when the nature of work is fundamentally changing. Skills employers are looking for now include: technology, communications, video marketing, social media, software development and quality assurance, project-identification, analysis and development of innovation solutions. 

“The past year has created unique and unexpected challenges for our students, and we are excited to introduce more flexible ways for them to upskill and engage in meaningful work-integrated learning,” says Norah McRae, associate provost of CEE. “The WE Accelerate Program will not only help students secure team-based project experiences, but through the exemplary efforts of our employers and industry partners, it will also help students develop vital skills to navigate a complex future of work.”

CEE co-developed the new program (dubbed WE Accelerate) with industry partners Microsoft, Deloitte, Vidyard, Desire2Learn and Manulife, as well as campus partners Concept by Velocity, The Problem Lab, and The Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change. All provided their expertise, course content, facilitators, coaches and mentors. Some of these partners will work with students on real work projects. The program offers a unique quality work-integrated learning opportunity and provides an alternative to a traditional co-op work term. 


“For over two decades, Microsoft has recruited exceptional talent from the University of Waterloo through the co-op program.  Microsoft is proud to collaborate with the University of Waterloo to upskill and coach first work-term students as one of the first steps in their career journey. These students will have the chance to work on industry projects, gain valuable mentorship, and earn their first Microsoft certification in Azure cloud and AI, setting them on a path to thrive in the digital economy.”  

– Kevin Peesker, President, Microsoft Canada


Manulife is proud to have a longstanding relationship with the University of Waterloo. Through this new work-integrated learning program, we’re excited to help first work-term students build their skills in software development as they work on projects that can have a positive impact on digital, customer experiences. We look forward to connecting students with talented, ambitious, and out of the box thinkers through this program, in support of building a resilient and innovative future workforce for tomorrow’s graduates.” 

– Hugh Cumming, CIO, Manulife Canada


Video is the future of business in this digital-focused world. Through the Waterloo Experience (WE) Accelerate program, we’ve partnered with the University of Waterloo to develop video marketing skills with first work-term students. Vidyard uses video to change the way companies connect and communicate and this skills set will set UWaterloo students apart, ready to embrace the constantly evolving digital workplace.

– Michael Litt, co-founder & CEO, Vidyard, Systems Engineering alumnus and former co-op student


“To stay ahead of today’s workplace disruptions, organizations need to continuously upskill their workforce dynamically and in the flow of work. We recognize that human-centred design (HCD) is a key future skill for building a future-ready workforce and are delighted to collaborate with the University of Waterloo to create an HCD Master Class for first-year students. During this 8-week course, students will solve a real work-integrated problem using the fundamentals of HCD - developing solutions that put the “human”, whether a customer, an employee, or a business partner, at the forefront, while flipping orthodoxies and paradigms about how a business operates.” 

– Peter Tulumello, Leader of Learning Advisory and Ecosystems, Deloitte Canada


“Concept is incredibly excited to help offer students a unique opportunity to spend a semester expanding their networks across disciplines and working with industry experts. The WE Accelerate program will provide exposure to opportunities outside of student comfort zones and allows them to focus on non-academic interests while building highly transferrable skills.” 

– Carly Cameron, Manager Entrepreneurship Experience, Concept imagined by Velocity


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