Lakeland co-op program sure to be a hit

WE’VE ALL HEARD OF learning on the job, but Lakeland University students will soon have the opportunity to learn and be on the job.

The university recently announced a nonengineering co-operative education program that will be the only such program of its kind in the upper Midwest.

Lakeland and local companies will partner to offer paid co-operative work experiences to students that will match their academic major as well as paying them money that the students can use to offset their college tuition costs.

The co-operative program will be launched this fall in Lakeland’s hospitality management program. Freshman students will start out working on-campus jobs and then transition to off-campus hospitality industry jobs by their sophomore year, possibly at one of the college’s three local hospitality partners – Elkhart Lake’s Osthoff Resort, Kohler’s American Club or Sheboygan’s Blue Harbor Resort.

University officials hope to be able to add other majors and private sector partners over the following several years. They see potential in such areas as accounting, business administration, marketing, management information systems and sport management and leadership, among others.

This is yet another example of Lakeland and local industry partnering to meet each other’s needs, as well as enhancing the educational experience for students, meet the needs of local businesses and provide a deeper, stronger labor pool for the future.

It takes advantage of a wide range of worldclass companies in the county and area, “more … per capita than you’ll find anywhere,” as Lakeland Trustee Tryg Jacobson commented in urging his colleagues on the board to approve the innovative program.

“Lakeland students will get an opportunity to learn while working in some of the finest companies in the world. It will be great for area companies, because it will provide the perfect venue for companies to get to know our students and build trusting relationships with them. And, if we’re fortunate enough, convince these students to stay and become contributing members of our communities,” Jacobson said in summarizing the new program.

He’s absolutely right in that assessment.

For students, in addition to learning about their chosen careers with actual experience on the job, the program will also offer an opportunity to earn money that will help them to offset the often high cost of higher education and make getting a quality education and valuable degree that much more affordable.

Local educational institutions, from public school districts up through technical colleges, two-year colleges and four-year colleges, have proven time and time again over the years that they can partner effectively with the private sector.

They have created programs and facilities that have helped students learn the skills needed to fill the jobs of the future, while helping local companies find the skilled and knowledgable workers they need to keep their businesses and lines humming and their bottom lines growing.

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