What is work-based learning?

Work-based learning focuses on learning you have gained from past work and experiences, and the development of new learning in the form of work-based project(s) focused on your current work role.

Does work-based learning occur exclusively in the workplace?

No. Both academic and occupational instructions are needed to achieve work-based learning skills and standards. Apprenticeships are an example of combining classroom learning and on-the-job training. These types of learning activities will help the young person relate real-life work experiences to classroom instruction.

What are the benefits of work-based learning for students?

Work-based learning experiences can help students

    • clarify their career choices,
    • develop positive work attitudes and behaviors,
    • identify necessary work accommodations and supports,
    • learn general workplace readiness skills as well as job-specific skills, and
    • network with potential employers.

In addition, students are given a context to apply practical theories learned in the classroom, develop human relations skills through interaction with co-workers, and gain exposure to diverse working environments. Students can also develop job search skills, résumés, and cover letters.

Who in the community is involved in work-based learning experiences, and what are the benefits to participation?

Work-based learning experiences are most effective when members of the community work together collaboratively to meet their local needs by offering occupational learning and career exposure activities. A work-based learning partnership typically consists of community members and organizations, employers, labor organizations, students.

It is important when recruiting partners to demonstrate the benefit of participating. These benefits may include an opportunity to participate in shaping curriculum and an opportunity to develop specific training programs backed by academic instruction. Students also bring fresh ideas and new perspectives.

What are some other ways employers can get involved in work-based learning besides providing a work-site experience for youth?

Work-based learning offers employers a variety of ways to get involved besides offering a work-site experience for a young person. In any community, a good cross-section of employers is needed to make work-based learning a reality. Employers can offer various services, including:

    • assisting in the development of curriculum and instruction plans,
    • helping recruit instructors in specific professional and technical fields,
    • volunteering to team-teach or teach where there is a need,
    • providing state-of-the-art equipment and materials,
    • opening up their facilities for actual instruction on-site, and
    • serving as mentors.