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United Nations (UN) SDGs put in action by Co-op

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The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a priority at the University of Victoria. At their core, the SDGs are about ending poverty and inequality and providing opportunity and support for all.

How co-op is addressing the 17 SDGs

UVic Co-op and Career activities related to all the SDGs (May 2018 to December 2020).

In the workplace

UVic co-op employers answer a survey about their workplace each year. Of the 2,264 employer organizations who responded to the survey between May 2018 and December 2020, 163 employer organizations (or 7%) were actively working to support UN SDG 1. 77 employers (or 3%) believed that co-op students' work contributed to projects related to the UN SDG 1.

Student experiences 

In the workplace

UVic co-op employers answer a survey about their workplace each year. Of the 2,264 employer organizations who responded to the survey between May 2018 and December 2020, 128 employer organizations (or 6%) were actively working to support UN SDG 2. Within these organizations, 71 employers (or 3%) believed that co-op students' work contributed to projects related to the UN SDG 2.

Student experiences

  • Asiyah Robinson is a UVic co-op alumna who served as a World Partnership Walk Day volunteer and then a leader on the core team. As the Director of Youth Engagement with the walk, Asiyah endeavoured to create a space for international students to feel welcome and engaged. “I love approaching other youth, helping them to feel settled, and empowering them to have an impact on a global scale.” 
  • Biochemistry co-op student Yunkun Li gained real-world experience at the Agassiz Research and Development Centre of Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, working with renowned research scientist Dr. Aimé Messiga. Together, they create soil and nutrient improvements leading to better crop yields, more sustainable practices and environmental protection. 
  • UVic professors Paul Schur, Amy Verdun and Merwin Engineer were the faculty champions of the 2018 World Partnership Walk, and UVic student volunteers were key coordinators of the event. 

  • Goal 3.3.1: Collaboration with health institutions: UVic Co-op has strong relationships with provincial government in the health information science sector to address the health and well-being of our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the workplace

UVic co-op employers answer a survey about their workplace each year. Of the 2,264 employer organizations who responded to the survey between May 2018 and December 2020, 641 employer organizations (or 28%) were actively working to support UN SDG 3. Within these organizations, 432 employers (or 19%) believed that co-op students' work contributed to projects related to the UN SDG 3.

Student experiences

  • In the summer of 2020, UVic biology and psychology student Sarah Jones wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. As a hand hygiene ambassador for Island Health, the co-op student was hired to promote and analyze hand hygiene processes in Greater Victoria. Jones was part of the infection prevention and control team, which has been working to improve patients’ quality of care and to support healthcare workers. She performed close to 1,500 hand hygiene observations at three different Island Health sites. 
  • UVic computer science and health information co-op student Yichun Zhao worked at AOT Technologies in Victoria, where he helped build a computer program used by Service BC to
    manage the complicated process followed by people who have returned to the
    province during COVID-19.
  • Engineering co-op student Darian Langler was hired by Starfish Medical to help quickly design, develop and produce 30,000 reliable, cost-effective ventilators in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • Goal 4.3.1: Public resources to support lifelong learning: Co-op and Career works closely with the Centre for Accessible Learning so that those who attend our events have access to accessible support, including American Sign Language interpreters.
  • Goal 4.3.2: Public events to support lifelong learning: UVic Co-op and Career holds more than 40 on-campus and virtual events each year to facilitate connection between the campus community, alumni, industry and employer organizations. More than 4,928 students and alumni and 420 employers attended these events in 2020.
  • Goal 4.3.3: Vocational training events that support lifelong learning:
    • UVic Co-op and Career facilitates cultural intelligence (CQ) training based on the Cultural Intelligence Model. All staff receive this training, and co-op students learn about CQ during their Introduction to Professional Practice (IPP) course. Students outside of co-op also have access to this curriculum.
    • Co-op and Career staff are supporting a federal government initiative that pairs newcomers to Canada (mentees) with professionals working in the newcomers field of expertise (mentors). Coordinated through Here Magazine, Co-op and Career staff provide mentees with cultural Intelligence (CQ) training and assessment, as well as monthly check-ins to guide students to achieve their CQ development goals.

  • Goal 4.3.4: Education outreach activities beyond campus:
    • Co-op and Career partners with Camosun to promote co-op as a hiring strategy for local employers through agreements with the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and WestShore Chamber of Commerce. Chamber members hire students and students who contribute to the local economy and often find full-time employment with Chamber members after graduation.
    • UVic has partnered with Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster to address the digital skills gap and issues related to equity, diversity and inclusion in engineering and computer science sectors. 

In the workplace

UVic co-op employers answer a survey about their workplace each year. Of the 2,264 employer organizations who responded to the survey between May 2018 and December 2020, 418 co-op employer organizations (or 18%) were actively working to support UN SDG 4. Within these organizations, 296 employers (or 13%) believed that co-op students' work contributed to projects related to the UN SDG 4.

Student experiences

  • Lauren Frost shares a blog post on MyUVic Life that highlights the advantages of attending a career-related event at UVic. 
  • Over the past five years, Used.ca has hired over a dozen UVic co-op students. Most recently, Used.ca welcomed commerce student Nick Head as a marketing assistant, and his background in information technology has proven to be extremely valuable to the company. Head's supervisor is a huge advocate for the co-op program. “At the end of each term, I’m amazed by how much I’ve learned from our students,” she says. “We mentor them in the early days of their careers and, in return, they help us become better leaders.” 

Student experiences gained through the WACE Global Challenge

The WACE Global Challenge is an experiential learning project that connects student teams from across the world with organizations to create sustainable impact initiatives. In 2020, UVic students participated in team-based projects addressing several SDGs. This aligns with 4.3.4 as an example of educational outreach activities beyond campus.

In the workplace

UVic co-op employers answer a survey about their workplace each year. Of the 2,264 employer organizations who responded to the survey between May 2018 and December 2020, 467 co-op employer organizations (or 21%) were actively working to support UN SDG 5. Within these organizations, 206 employers (or 9%) believed that co-op students' work contributed to projects related to the UN SDG 5.

In the workplace

UVic co-op employers answer a survey about their workplace each year. Of the 2,264 employer organizations who responded to the survey between May 2018 and December 2020, 259 co-op employer organizations (or 11%) were actively working to support UN SDG 6. Within these organizations, 127 employers (or 6%) believed that co-op students' work contributed to projects related to the UN SDG 6.

Student experiences 

  • Geography student Nhan (Young) Nguyen spent a co-op term with the Comox Valley Project Watershed, working with a marine conservation project as a field and research assistant. “My role was to research, survey and identify potential spawning habitats of forage fish, namely Pacific Sand Lance and Surf Smelt in the northern Salish Sea,” he says. “On top of literature research, I developed a GIS predictive model to narrow down potential sampling sites, conducted survey sampling and coordinated volunteers."

UVic co-op employers answer a survey about their workplace each year. Of the 2,264 employer organizations who responded to the survey between May 2018 and December 2020, 319 co-op employer organizations (or 14%) were actively working to support UN SDG 7. Within these organizations, 185 employers (or 8%) believed that co-op students' work contributed to projects related to the UN SDG 7.

  • Goal 8.4.1: Proportion of students taking part in work placements for more than a month: In 2020, 4,108 co-op placements were completed by UVic students, who earned an average of $3,075 per month. 32.1% of placements were in the public sector and 67.9% were in the private sector. 1,280 different employers hired co-op students. Approximately 43% of eligible UVic students took part in co-op work terms. 
  • Goal 8.2.3: Employment policy on discrimination: All students and employers can access support related to equity, diversion and inclusion in the workplace. 

In the workplace

UVic co-op employers answer a survey about their workplace each year. Of the 2,264 employer organizations who responded to the survey between May 2018 and December 2020, 413 co-op employer organizations (or 18%) were actively working to support UN SDG 8. Within these organizations, 252 employers (or 11%) believed that co-op students' work contributed to projects related to the UN SDG 8.

Student experiences

  • Co-op and Career partners with Camosun to promote co-op as a hiring strategy for local employers through agreements with the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and WestShore Chamber of Commerce. Chamber members hire students and students who contribute to the local economy and often find full-time employment with Chamber members after graduation.
  • As a non-profit organization whose mandate is to support businesses in downtown Victoria, the Downtown Victoria Business Association is a key connector to the local economy. DVBA has been welcoming University of Victoria co-operative education (coop) students to the team. At the DVBA, students contribute to marketing operations including social media, event and festival planning, writing, blogging and interacting with business owners. 

Student experiences gained through the WACE Global Challenge

The WACE Global Challenge is an experiential learning project that connects student teams from across the world with organizations to create sustainable impact initiatives. In 2020, UVic students participated in team-based projects addressing several SDGs. 

  • Goal 9: Co-op and Career work closely with the Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) through the Government of Canada to help employers secure funding that allows them to hire UVic co-op students in a range of industries. These hands-on experience are vital for connecting students with innovative industries; the organizations in turn benefit from students' knowledge and skill

In the workplace

UVic co-op employers answer a survey about their workplace each year. Of the 2,264 employer organizations who responded to the survey between May 2018 and December 2020, 601 co-op employer organizations (or 27%) were actively working to support UN SDG 9. Within these organizations, 416 employers (or 18%) believed that co-op students' work contributed to projects related to the UN SDG 9.

Student experiences gained through the WACE Global Challenge

The WACE Global Challenge is an experiential learning project that connects student teams from across the world with organizations to create sustainable impact initiatives. In 2020, UVic students participated in team-based projects addressing several SDGs. 

In the workplace

UVic co-op employers answer a survey about their workplace each year. Co-op and Career surveys employers about how their work supports the UN SDGs. Of the 2,264 employer organizations who responded to the survey between May 2018 and December 2020, 340 co-op employer organizations (or 15%) were actively working to support UN SDG 10. Within these organizations, 175 employers (or 8%) believed that co-op students' work contributed to projects related to the UN SDG 10.

Student experiences 

  • Goal 11.4.2: Promote sustainable communities: Co-op and Career staff support the Bike to Work Week initiative several times per year, with staff forming teams to encourage sustainable commuting. 
  • Goal 11.4.3: Allow remote working: By allowing staff to work from home two days a week, Co-op and Career is helping to reduce employee commuting.

In the workplace

UVic co-op employers answer a survey about their workplace each year. Co-op and Career surveys employers about how their work supports the UN SDGs. Of the 2,264 employer organizations who responded to the survey between May 2018 and December 2020, 449 co-op employer organizations (or 20%) were actively working to support UN SDG 11. Within these organizations, 300 employers (or 13%) believed that co-op students' work contributed to projects related to the UN SDG 11.

Student experiences 

  • At Winchester Galleries, University of Victoria art history and visual studies student Anahita Ranjbar (centre) applied her academic knowledge to the professional art market. As a gallery assistant, the co-operative education (co-op) student was responsible for curating, documenting and advertising exhibitions. Anahita, an international student from Iran, is grateful for the experience Winchester Galleries has given her. “I’ve learned a lot about Canadian art history, different approaches to art in Canadian culture and the role of artists in Canadian society,” she says. 

  • Goal 12.2.6: Policy for reduction of disposable items: Co-op and Career has been actively reducing the number of printed publications and materials and shifting to digital whenever possible. This has included:
    • Creating QR codes to direct stakeholders to visit the Co-op and Career website for audience-specific information, rather than printing and distributing specialized publications.
    • Revising 200+ PDF resources and migrating the content to a web-based, user-driven digital widget that delivers information based on the stakeholders' program of interest, rather than printing and distributing printed versions.
    • Creating accessible versions of all remaining PDFs to encourage digital access.

In the workplace

UVic co-op employers answer a survey about their workplace each year. Of the 2,264 employer organizations who responded to the survey between May 2018 and December 2020, 301 co-op employer organizations (or 13%) were actively working to support UN SDG 12. Within these organizations, 190 employers (or 8%) believed that co-op students' work contributed to projects related to the UN SDG 12.

UVic co-op employers answer a survey about their workplace each year. Of the 2,264 employer organizations who responded to the survey between May 2018 and December 2020, 419 co-op employer organizations (or 19%) were actively working to support UN SDG 13. Within these organizations, 241 employers (or 11%) believed that co-op students' work contributed to projects related to the UN SDG 13.

Student experiences

  • Andrea Kyfiuk (environmental studies) worked 2 back to back work terms with Environment Canada (EC) in Yellowknife from Sept 2018-May 2019 as a Northern Climate Services Analyst with the Canadian Center for Climate Services (CCCS) which is dedicated to providing Canadians with the information they need to adapt to climate change. That includes providing information and tools to local decision makers, academics, the public, etc. 
  • Natasha Moroz (geography and environmental studies co-op student) worked as a marketing and business development specialist for Nature Bee Beeswax wraps, a Victoria-based company that was founded by UVic alumna Katie Gamble. Born out of Gamble’s passion to reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste, Nature Bee produces a planet-friendly alternative that is reusable, contains antibacterial properties and helps keep food fresher for longer. 

UVic co-op employers answer a survey about their workplace each year. Of the 2,264 employer organizations who responded to the survey between May 2018 and December 2020, 176 co-op employer organizations (or 8%) were actively working to support UN SDG 14. Within these organizations, 112 co-op students (or 5%) believed that co-op students' work contributed to projects related to the UN SDG 14.

Student experiences 

  • Geography student Nhan (Young) Nguyen spent a co-op term with the Comox Valley Project Watershed, working with a marine conservation project as a field and research assistant. “My role was to research, survey and identify potential spawning habitats of forage fish, namely Pacific sand lance and surf smelt in the northern Salish Sea,” he says. “On top of literature research, I developed a GIS predictive model to narrow down potential sampling sites, conducted survey sampling and coordinated volunteers.” 

UVic co-op employers answer a survey about their workplace each year. Of the 2,264 employer organizations who responded to the survey between May 2018 and December 2020, 226 co-op employer organizations (or 10%) were actively working to support UN SDG 14. Within these organizations, 136 employers (or 6%) believed that co-op students' work contributed to projects related to the UN SDG 15.

Student experiences 

  • Civil engineering student Kirsten Krajnc spent a federal government co-op work term with Indigenous Services Canada in their community infrastructure department. Her responsibilities included pulling historic data from the Environment Canada website near different First Nation reserves across the province and analyzing it to discover patterns in years that had major weather events, such as flooding, and seeing which factors lead to that event to see if it would be possible to predict future events. 

  • Goal 16.2.4: Participatory bodies for stakeholder engagement: Co-op and Career staff invite employers to share their experiences within the co-op program as well as the needs of their industries and hiring trends as part of the employer advisory panel, which meets several times per year.
  • Goal 16.3.3: Participation in government research: Students from across academic program areas complete co-op work terms conducting research for municipal, provincial and federal government, including contributing to policy development.
  • Goal 16.3: Co-op and Career partners with the Government of Canada to facilitate the Federal Student Ambassador Program on campus. We work with the office of the Deputy Minster University Champion John Ossowski, who is president of the Canada Border Services Agency, which provides two part-time federal student ambassadors that support campus-wide recruitment for federal career development. 

In the workplace

UVic co-op employers answer a survey about their workplace each year. Of the 2,264 employer organizations who responded to the survey between May 2018 and December 2020, 226 co-op employer organizations (or 10%) were actively working to support UN SDG 16. Within these organizations, 124 employers (or 5%) believed that co-op students' work contributed to projects related to the UN SDG 16.

Student experiences

  • For Alex McKay and Nick Saar, two third-year students in UVic’s engineering program, the chance to spend a co-op term working with the CFB Esquimalt Fire Rescue meant an opportunity to gain invaluable experience and skills. As pre-incident plan developers, the students spent their term designing and creating a brand new pre-incident fire plan for the base – a project that went so well, they were awarded commemorative coins from the base for their efforts. 

  • Goal 17.2.1: Relationships with NGOs and government for SDG policy:
    • UVic Co-op and Career supports the World Partnership Walk each year to engage the community to fight global poverty and educate about global food security. Thanks to the work of UVic faculty champions, the university raises more than any other post-secondary institution towards this goal. UVic students are able to volunteer to organize the UVic walk and gain co-curricular record credit at UVic for this experience. Here's a profile of a faculty champion.
    • Co-op and Career partners with Camosun to promote co-op as a hiring strategy for local employers through agreements with the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and WestShore Chamber of Commerce. Chamber members hire students and students who contribute to the local economy and often find full-time employment with Chamber members after graduation.
    • Students from across academic program areas complete co-op work terms conducting research for municipal, provincial and federal government, including contributing to policy development.
    • Co-op and Career partners with the Government of Canada to facilitate the Federal Student Ambassador Program on campus. We work with the office of the Deputy Minster University Champion John Ossowski, who is president of the Canada Border Services Agency, which provides two part-time federal student ambassadors that support campus-wide recruitment for federal career development. 
    • UVic's Strategic Framework Experiential Learning Fund (SF-ELF) provides financial support to help businesses to hire co-op students. Funding for employers includes a wage subsidy for not-for-profits and Indigenous community organizations to cover a portion of the cost of hiring a co-op student for a work term (up to $5,000).
  • Goal 17.2.1 and 17.2.2: Cross sectoral dialogue about SDGs: Co-op and Career staff invite employers to share their experiences within the co-op program as well as the needs of their industries and hiring trends as part of the employer advisory panel, which meets several times per year.

In the workplace

UVic co-op employers answer a survey about their workplace each year. Of the 2,264 employer organizations who responded to the survey between May 2018 and December 2020, 272 co-op employer organizations (or 12%) were actively working to support UN SDG 17. Within these organizations, 169 employers (or 7%) believed that co-op students' work contributed to projects related to the UN SDG 17.

Student experiences

  • Asiyah Robinson is a UVic co-op alumna who served as a World Partnership Walk Day volunteer and then a leader on the core team. As the director of youth engagement with the Walk, Asiyah endeavoured to create a space for international students to feel welcome and engaged. “I love approaching other youth, helping them to feel settled, and empowering them to have an impact on a global scale.” 
  • UVic professors Paul Schure, Amy Verdun and Merwin Engineer were the faculty champions of the 2018 walk, and UVic student volunteers were key coordinators of the event. Aligns with 17.2.5 as an example of experiences where students collaborate with NGOs for SDGs.

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