FREDERICTON – The University of New Brunswick is partnering with Siemens Canada on a program that allows students to have hands-on work experience, starting a year before they graduate.
UNB signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Siemens Canada to become an official partner in the company’s Dual Education Program under Siemens Canada Engineering and Technology Academy (SCETA).
UNB is the first university in Atlantic Canada to become a partner in this initiative.
The university’s president and vice-chancellor, Paul Mazerolle, said there’s already synergy between the partners. UNB is involved in Siemens’ work in smart grid technology and cybersecurity in New Brunswick. The German multinational established a cybersecurity centre in Fredericton last year and it’s a partner in the Smart Grid Innovation Network.
“There’s a recognition that we have a wonderful program but also great opportunities for Siemens to recruit among the best and brightest young people coming out of university,” Mazerolle said.
He said the program will not only give participating students real-life work experience, but also a chance to network with professionals in their field.
“To me it’s just a tremendous opportunity for our students. So we’re not only proud of the partnership but we see it as something that can hopefully grow over time,” he added.
The 16-month paid program targets undergraduate engineering, computer science and technology students in their third year of university. Selected students will be trained and work at Siemens’ Fredericton operations during the summer after their third and fourth years, but will remain paid full-time employees in the months that they’re in school. They’ll also get tuition credit.
Through the program, Siemens will not only offer co-op placements, but also training and mentorships related to advanced innovation and technology, professional and interpersonal skills, and business competencies relevant to the North American market.
Siemens Canada’s business development VP, Theresa Cooke, is in charge of the SCETA program that the company launched in Canada five years ago, based on the apprenticeship model seen in Germany.
She said the company’s objective is to get recruits that can hit the ground running once they’ve graduated from university.
“We really want them to be fully work-ready and as productive as possible when they hit the job market. And we believe that by bringing in soft skills, business skills, the hands-on kind of training and mentorship aspects of the program, that really complements and builds out the full capacity of the individual,” she said.
Siemens is looking to recruit around five students from UNB through the competitive program that only accepts between 15 to 20 participants across Canada each year. The company is primarily looking to recruit for its smart grid and cybersecurity operations in Fredericton.
“The primary goal will be at the Atlantic Canada and New Brunswick footprint, but there’s always opportunity for students to leverage the national Siemens employment pool and the international [pool], eventually, throughout their career,” she said.
“It’s quite select, because we’re investing a lot in this program. So, we’re looking for that perfect fit between our business needs and the student.”
Upon completion of the program, the students will most likely be offered full-time positions at the company.
“We place a very high number of our students,” Cooke said.