Empowering Learners and Building a Stronger Workforce, Fostering Economic Growth

Work-based Learning

Work-based Learning

Work-based learning creates a link between education and the workforce. Work-based learning can include apprenticeships, internships, and career technical education (CTE) classes. This partnership benefits students as they finish their education and, also, as they transition from a classroom to a career.

Through work-based learning education, students develop employability skills such as cooperation, understanding, and motivation. These skills will help students as they search for post-graduation employment opportunities. Students get a head start in developing career awareness and work-related habits that they will need in future careers (Why Does Employer Engagement Matter?, pg. 7). Also, work-based learning encourages students to stay in school because each student can learn skills in their own areas of interest.

The benefits from work-based learning continue as these students enter the workforce. The employers hire workers that are prepared for a workplace environment and require less training. According to a survey by the Urban Institute, 80% of businesses that sponsor apprenticeship programs found that the program was effective. The same survey found that 94% of these businesses would recommend apprenticeship programs to other companies (Wilson and Mehta, 2017, pg. 3). Also, work-based learning allows workers to find careers that best fit their interest which will improve worker engagement and efficiency in the workplace.

In the United States, thirty-five states, as of 2017, have programs that support work-based learning (Wilson and Mehta, 2017, pg. 3). Work-based learning allows communities to come together.  The local economy becomes more productive as workers find jobs that best fit their skills. Also, by allowing students to develop these skills in high school, the unemployment rate will decrease within communities because there will be a trained and available workforce without workers having to seek higher education. 

Work-based learning prepares students to transition to the workforce through hands on learning. The skills learned during these programs follow the students into their future careers. Although some training is required for any job, work-based learning programs prepares workers to learn new skills and to use the skills developed more effectively. Work-based learning programs create engaged students, productive workforces, and efficient communities.

Kettle, J. (October 2013). Flexible Pedagogies: employer engagement and work-based learning. The Higher Education Academy. Retrieved from https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/resources/ee_wbl_report.pdf  

Why Does Employer Engagement Matter? (2014). Career Development Institute. Retrieved from http://www.thecdi.net/write/Why_Does_Employer_Engagement_Matter_A_Toolkit_for_Managing_Employer_Activities_in_Schools_and_Colleges.pdf  

Wilson, B. and Mehta, S. (April 2017). Work-based Learning Policy. National Skills Coalition. Retrieved from https://www.nationalskillscoalition.org/resources/publications/file/WBL-Learning-Policy-50-State-Scan.pdf  

Work-Based Learning Research

Why Does Employe Engagement Matter?

  • The underlying aims of work related education are to:  (page 7) 
    • Develop employability skills.
    • Provide young people with the opportunity to ‘learn by doing’ and to learn from experts.
    • Raise standards of achievement.
    • Increase the commitment to learning, motivation and self-confidence of students.
    • Improve the retention of young people in learning after the age of compulsory schooling.
    • Develop career awareness and the ability to benefit from impartial and informed information and guidance.
    • Support active citizenship.
    • Develop the ability to apply knowledge, understanding and skills.
    • Improve understanding of the economy, enterprise, personal finance and the structure of business organizations and how they work.
    • Encourage positive attitudes to lifelong learning.

Flexible Pedagogies: Employer Engagement and Work-Based Learning

  • A partnership between an external organization and an educational organization to foster learning; learners being employees; a program of learning derived from the needs of the workplace and the learner; recognition of prior learning; learning undertaken in the workplace; providers assessing outcomes of negotiated learning within a framework of standards/levels which is transdisciplinary. (page 15) 
  • Work-based learning: “linking learning to the work role, but this does not only mean preparing for a specific job. Three strands have been identified: learning for work, learning at work, and learning through work”. (page 15) 

An Introduction to Work-Based Learning

  • Learning for work can involve the secondary-school student embarking on a two-week work-experience placement, whereby they would be involved, albeit very superficially, in the processes of the workplace, reporting on how they developed over their time there as well as log-keeping. (page 5) 
  • A commonplace example of learning at work is the well-established on-site company training schemes and program which can provide a means of up-skilling the existing workforce without the need for lengthy periods of time away from their work, for example taught through an experienced senior technical expert employee or an external consultant from a specialist company. In general, these courses are not often formally assessed or given accreditation. (page 6) 
  • There are examples whereby completion of on-site training courses are formally assessed and accredited; these are examples of learning through work as well as accredited day-release programs through further and higher education institutions. (page 6)

Work-Based Learning at Higher Education Level: Value, Practice and Critique

  • The term ‘work-based learning’ logically refers to all and any learning that is situated in the workplace or arises directly out of workplace concerns. (page 2) 
  • There is increasing evidence that universities’ engagement in work-based learning is proving effective both in the sense of creating immediately valuable development, in contributing to the development of self-managing practitioners and self-directed learners in line with the needs of the ‘knowledge economy,’ and in facilitating personal growth and development. The value to learners already in work is often significant both at an immediately practical level and as a catalyst for personal growth. (page 10) 

Work-Based Learning: Definition and Impact

  • Work-based learning allows students of all ages to get an insight into a career or occupation which can be a key step in the pathway to a fulfilling career.

Benefits of Work-Based Learning

  • Quality work-based learning programs benefit the students, employers, schools, and the community. 

Work-Based Learning Policy

  • NSC (National Skills Coalition) finds that thirty-five states have a policy in place to support work-based learning. (page 2) 
  • Title I of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) uses the term, “work experiences,” which may be unpaid or paid. Title I also requires that at least 20 percent of youth funds must support work experiences for youth sixteen to twenty-four years of age. (page 3) 
  • According to the Urban Institute, more than 80 percent of U.S. companies that sponsor apprentices say that it’s an effective strategy for helping them meet their demand for skilled labor, and 94 percent of employers would recommend registered apprenticeship as a strategy to other employers. Work-based learning strategies reinforce worker engagement and early access to the culture of a worksite, leading to more loyal workers and lower turnover costs. (page 3) 

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