Dark blue banner with floating COVID-19 microscopic particles

UBC Forestry Co-op – Employer FAQs Regarding COVID-19

Last Updated: April 1, 2020

General Questions

  1. Is the UBC Forestry Co-op office open during the pandemic?

The UBC Forestry Co-op office is open virtually.  In an effort to promote physical distancing, all staff working in the Forestry Co-op Office will be working remotely from at least March 17th – April 15th 2020 – and possibly beyond this  You may reach us by phone or email during normal office hours of 8:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday to Friday.  Contact our Forestry Co-op office.

  1. How has the Co-op program changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Some changes are inevitable due to the pandemic: as we are working remotely and conducting meetings and site visits virtually, some modifications have been made to steps in the hiring process as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  We have instituted some important changes to our interview process and are supporting Co-op employers with increased flexibility (e.g. a later start date for the summer term).  If you already have plans to bring on a new student in May, we are supportive of work terms continuing as planned. If that is not a feasible option, then please consider adjusting the start date to one that works for both you and the student. Please note: some students might be required to self-isolate in cases when they return from abroad which may delay the start date. If you would like to delay the start date (e.g. first of June or later) and hence shorten the length of the work term, we are in support of your decision.  Further details are discussed in sections below (Job Postings, Interviews & Job Offers, Social Distancing & Impact on Current Co-op placements, and Changes to Scheduled Co-op Placements).

Job Postings

  1. Are students still available for work for the summer (May/June start)?

Yes!  We have many qualified, eager and engaged students who are hoping to have co-op placements for the summer term.  We understand that summer term placements may begin at a date later than originally anticipated.  Further details are discussed below.

  1. Has the job posting process changed?

No, the job posting process remains the same.  Employers can email our office with the details of the job posting to forestry.coop@ubc.ca

  1. When is the latest date I can hire a student for the summer term?

We understand that the current situation is causing a lot of uncertainty with regards to your future hiring needs. Based on recommendations from CEWIL (Cooperative Education and Work Integrated Learning) Canada, the association overseeing Coop and Work-Integrated Learning at Canadian colleges and universities, we have relaxed our 12 weeks minimum requirement for students’ summer work terms.  Rather than fully terminate a co-op term, it is possible to delay the student’s start date until July 1st 2020 if necessary.  Please contact UBC Forestry Co-op if you have any questions.

Interviews & Job Offers

  1. Has the interview process changed?

Yes, the interview process has changed.  To encourage social distancing, we now request that all interviews take place either by telephone, Skype or Zoom.  We realize that a telephone or virtual interview does not replace an in-person meeting, however, it is necessary at this critical time for public health.

  1. How can I set up remote interviews?  Can UBC Forestry Co-op help me with this?

UBC Forestry Co-op will gladly assist in scheduling your remote interviews.  You may choose to conduct the interviews over the phone or via various video-conferencing platforms such as Skype or Zoom. To schedule the interview, please email us at forestry.coop@ubc.ca and we will provide further instructions.

  1. Is there a deadline for interviews for the summer term (May start)?

As there are changes that some employers may need to make, the latest date to interview for the summer term is June 15, 2020.

  1. Has the job offer process changed?

No, the job offer process remains the same.  After you have interviewed candidates for your position, please let our staff know if you would like to extend a job offer.  When extending the job offer please provide the following information:

  • position
  • duration (start/end date)
  • salary
  • Supervisor contact information

Students will have 3 business days to reply to the job offer.

Physical  Distancing & Impact on Current Co-op Placements

  1. Our workplace is considering moving to a Work From Home (WFH) workplace but we are unsure of how to transition our current student’s co-op position to a WFH position.  What do you suggest?

Workplace health and safety regulations in the province are quickly evolving with the COVID-19 pandemic.  We advise all employers to be aware and comply with these.  Given this, there are a few options you could explore and we would be happy to discuss them with you.

  1. Our Company has transitioned to a WFH policy until the pandemic is resolved. What options are there for my new co-op student(s)?

We understand this has been the situation with many other companies, and these are unprecedented times. Most of these companies have treated existing co-op students like their own full-time employees: students are provided laptops (or asked to use their personal laptops in some cases), VPN access and other options for WFH. For new co-op students, orientation and training tools can be virtually delivered to facilitate the process.  However, jobs that require physical presence at the worksite or out in the field are a definite concern.  Co-op Coordinators can have a conversation with the student depending on your strategy to make sure that the student feels comfortable with the arrangement.

  1. Do you have any suggestions on how to conduct orientation and organize the first day for new Co-op students if we are still required to WFH when the summer term starts?

More and more employers are inquiring about how to accommodate onboarding for new co-op students.  At UBC, all classes are now delivered online and students have become well-versed with online learning.  Below are some suggestions for on-boarding new students:

  • Some employers have created online training and mentorship models for onboarding their co-op students that include an online resources page for students to access.
  • Others are exploring use of online platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Hangouts and Slack to facilitate training and day-to-day communication with all employees.
  • One best practice to using this approach are to ensure the student is available at all normal business hours on these communication platforms.
  • Alternative methods include creation of training modules shared via employer intranet or using secure video sharing platforms.

The Co-op office will support any mentorship or student engagement strategies that your company develops. We understand that the co-op students will be treated like any other employee or new hire in the company.

  1. Our workplace does not have a WFH policy and my co-op student does not want to come to work.  How can the UBC Forestry Co-op office support both the student and employer?

As the COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation, there are some students who are concerned about their health, work, and transportation to-and-from work.  We understand the expectations from both the student’s and employer’s perspective. Our Coordinators will speak with the student and the employer to find the best possible solution that meets the needs for both parties.

  1. Our workplace has transitioned to a temporary WFH workplace but the student’s work cannot be done from home.  What do you suggest?

There are few options you could explore:

  1. For students currently placed in positions scheduled for consecutive work terms: employers and students may consider ‘pausing’ the placement in hopes of reinitiating the placement later in the summer term if social distancing requirements allow return to the workplace.
  2. For new placements: if the placement cannot be completed with a WFH option, then we will discuss the options with the student. Employers can potentially change the start date to a later date or potentially change the work term to a later term so that the work can be started when social distancing requirements allow return to the workplace.
  3. If there is no other workable solution, you may retract the offer given the exceptional circumstance. We will try to find an alternative placement for the student, however we know it is not always possible. We would like to consider this as a last resort as students may have made housing and financial commitments in anticipation of their fulltime work term.

Changes to Scheduled Co-op Placements

  1. Things are too uncertain right now; I’d normally hire for the summer term but am thinking of delaying until the fall, is that an option?

Yes, postponing your position for a later term is certainly an option. Please note that if you have already hired for your upcoming summer position, the student you have hired may have prearranged plans (either work or study) and may be unavailable for a later term. We will work with you and the student and do what is best for all parties involved.

  1. Our business has been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and we no longer think we can afford a co-op student this summer.  What are our options?

Despite our hopes that this does not happen, we acknowledge the possibility that employers may face grave financial consequences as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and may be unable to continue with the currently scheduled co-op position. Please let us know if you have to retract your job offer and we will work with you and the student. We trust that you will consider this option only as the last resort. There are some funding options available for employers. We have a list compiled on our Forestry Co-op Employers Funding website.

Still have questions?  Visit our Forestry Co-op website or contact forestry.coop@ubc.ca