Co-op education provides valuable work experience



According to the BBC, India’s six per cent unemployment rate is the highest it has been since the early 1970s. While the number may not sound calamitous, in reality the rate is much higher among India’s youth.

Approximately one in five young people is unemployed, a figure the Indian government dismisses as inaccurate. But Archana Abhilash knows better. Stories shared between friends and colleagues confirm it is hard for a young person to start a career, even after completing a rigorous degree program at a reputed Indian university.

“So many engineers are graduating in India that they cannot get jobs there due to the surplus of qualified people,” she says of the current situation. “I guess people pursue engineering because it is cheaper than studying medicine,” she offers as an explanation.

Abhilash knows it first-hand. She completed an undergraduate degree in electrical and electronics engineering in Kerala, and even found work briefly as an engineer. But then she got married and had to change direction, finding work in a bank for a few years.

Born in Dubai to an electrical engineer and a school teacher, she was not averse to moving beyond India once again, if it meant securing her future. Her husband encouraged her to think big, too.

“I was originally looking for a Master’s program overseas, but admissions was closed to me because it had been a long gap since I was in university. So my husband suggested to try a Canadian college,” she says.

She chose the Energy Systems Engineering Technology program at Toronto’s Centennial College, partly because it would build on her electrical knowledge. Being a “fast-track” program, she was able to enter the three-year program in the second year, with credit for her degree.

“It is a more practical program. What is especially good is the co-op option, which I am doing right now, which puts me with an employer working in the field. It was easy to find work with the help of the college’s co-op advisor.”

Abhilash works at a company that promotes energy efficiency by offering incentives for upgraded equipment and lighting to homeowners and commercial enterprises. She reviews applications for energy grants, applying her engineering knowledge to determine if the money will be directed to worthy projects. Working in Canada is a whole new experience.

“People at work are friendly and ready to help. I feel there is a lot of respect and the freedom to work your own way. Everyone is treated fair and equally,” she says.

“Centennial College played a huge role in helping me and other international students feel welcome and find the help we need.” Her classroom experience was so positive, she earned a GPA of 4.3 – sufficient to win the Desi News Scholarship, established by publisher and editor G.A. and  Shagorika Easwar.

Awarded to a full-time student who possesses a diploma from a South Asian university, and who has demonstrated that a Centennial College education will enhance his/her employment success in Canada, the scholarship has assisted numerous college students.

“I really want to thank Desi News for their generous award. They, like so many others here, have come forward to help people like us. It is gratifying,” she says with a warm smile. 

Desi News