Wilfrid Laurier University (Laurier) is known for its business and economics, social work and data science programs. Offering experiential learning programs like co-op, field placements and community service learning, Laurier plays a key role in filling Waterloo’s talent pipeline with a highly trained professional workforce.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in November 2019. It has been updated to include more recent information and links.
Laurier is one of three post-secondary institutions producing skilled talent in Waterloo. The university is home to 20,000 students, 10 faculties, 23 research centres and over 80 undergraduate programs that inspire young talent to take risks and become leaders in their communities.
Here are four eye-opening facts that will pique your interest in the Laurier advantage:
1. Laurier’s business degree co-op program is the largest in Canada
With co-operative education (co-op) programs spanning arts, science and some graduate programs, Laurier has ample experience helping students learn on the job. But the foundation of Laurier’s co-op reputation rests on its business and economics co-op program, which is the largest of its kind in Canada.
Accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International, the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics combines an innovative, high-caliber in-class education with real-world experience that prepares students for their careers outside of the classroom.
The Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning of Canada (CEWIL) has accredited 13 of Laurier’s co-op programs. The accreditation recognizes exceptional program adaptation to the needs of students, employers and institutions.
This training makes Laurier students exceptionally employable. In fact, 97% of business administration graduates, 93% of economics graduates and 89% of Business Technology Management graduates find full-time employment after graduation.
In their fourth or fifth year, Laurier business students can specialize in ten different concentrations, including finance, marketing, supply chain management and sustainability. Students graduate with a vast network of contacts and a level of professional maturity that sets them apart, thanks largely to the university’s commitment to experiential learning.
2. Lazaridis ScaleUp companies have raised over $1B since 2016
The ScaleUp Program at Laurier’s Lazaridis Institute for the Management of Technology Enterprises set out seven years ago to assist growth-oriented companies from across Canada in building their network and scaling globally.
The first of its kind in Canada, the no-cost program is designed to support scale-up companies’ ability to navigate the challenges faced by rapidly growing firms without taking equity.
Located within the university’s Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, the Institute invests $100,000 per company through mentorship and programming tailored to the needs of each individual company.
Founders can grow their network by attending expert-led workshops on topics like going global, leadership, people and funding. These advantages have supported 62 successful companies including Terramera, Vendasta, Symend, DOZR and Maple, to name a few.
The program has also made a concerted effort to support women in business, with one whole cohort focusing on women-led businesses. Currently, 34% of program graduates have a female founder or co-founder. After seven years, 100% of alumni companies are still in operation.
3. Laurier StartUp Lab supports high-potential ventures
Laurier’s Lazaridis incubator, the StartUp Lab, is bursting at the seams with student- or alumni-led ventures. Female founders lead 44% of these companies and 40% have a social impact component to their business, demonstrating the diversity of the program. These companies, and the entrepreneurial minds the StartUp Lab helps develop, are an integral part of Waterloo’s world-renowned startup culture.
Supported by the on-campus Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation, the StartUp Lab provides students with a wide range of programming and mentorship, enabling them to establish a working business model for their ideas and work towards bringing them to market. As of 2022, 34 startups have joined the program, which consists of 24 mentors.
Some of the university’s entrepreneurship programming and innovation spaces include:
- The opportunity to specialize in an Entrepreneurship Concentration, a Social Entrepreneurship Option or a Community Engagement Option.
- The Science Maker Lab and Library Makerspace, which offer space and equipment like 3D printers, photography gear, as well as research and design tools available to help students build and test prototypes at no extra cost.
- Socially innovative and community-engaged learning opportunities offered by the Faculty of Arts through their C3 Innovation Labs (C3IL).
- LaunchPad Brantford provides similar programming and resources to entrepreneurs as the Waterloo Campus’ StartUp Lab.
4. Students graduate with a Laurier Experience Record in addition to their degree.
The first of its kind in Canada, Laurier’s Experience Record (LER) is exactly what it sounds like – a documented collective of the hands-on experiences a student participated in throughout their university career.
Beyond listing their experiences, the LER shows the career competencies they’ve gained along the way, such as communication, leadership, critical thinking and professional attributes like time management, work ethic and integrity.
Thanks to the Laurier Experience Catalogue, students can choose between more than 500 different experiential learning opportunities. These include volunteer work, student clubs or associations, as well as research or teaching assistant positions.
The LER program was launched in 2003. During its first year, 28 percent of the student body engaged in over 10,300 co-curricular activities. Specifically, 2,600 students were engaged in co-op programs, 1,600 enrolled in courses that involve a community service component, 800 students pursued a workplace partnership through respective courses and more than 800 students participated in field partnerships.
As of 2022, 91% of Laurier undergraduate students graduated with at least one academic experiential learning (EL) opportunity that involved an external community or industry.
For employers, this record provides an unprecedented, official look at the experiences that potential recruits will draw from once they join your team.
Bonus #5: New Laurier campus will tackle sustainability and inclusivity
In the fall of 2024, Laurier will open its new Milton campus to students. Located along the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor, the Milton campus is only a 50-minute drive (62 km/39 mi) from Waterloo. The school’s sustainability and inclusivity-focused programs will generate well-informed local talent that’s committed to solving relevant challenges.
The campus will offer STEAM-based programs taught from a planetary health and inclusivity perspective. Areas of research focus include urban watershed, environments and sustainability, Indigeneity and EDI, commercializing sustainable solutions and entrepreneurship.
Campus programming and facilities were designed with Indigenous principles of land stewardship in mind. Surrounding Greenbelt spaces and the Niagara Escarpment are seamlessly integrated with sustainably designed, net-zero facilities. This involves incorporating Indigenous circle and land pedagogies into building design and using green spaces as “living labs” for climate change research.
With all the value that Laurier provides students and their future employers, it’s no wonder the school was ranked #1 in student satisfaction for four years by Maclean’s Magazine!
Contact our team for more information on post-secondary talent in Waterloo.