What is Work-Based Learning?
Work-based learning (WBL) is a sequence of structured learning experiences related to students’ career goals or interests created from school and business partnerships involving the application of knowledge and skills acquired in the classroom to tasks performed in a business or service-oriented work environment. As students make connections between their school work and the world of work, they gain an understanding of the importance of learning and are able to make informed decisions about their futures.
1. Apprenticeship: An earn-while-you-learn training model that combines on-the-job training, job-related education, and a scalable wage progression.
a. Registered Apprenticeship: An adult educational program that is registered with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training. The traditional program is designed for adults; however, it may be linked to an approved youth apprenticeship program in grades 11-12 with a minimum student age requirement of 16 years old.
b. Youth Apprenticeship: A structured program giving youth at least age 16 or older an opportunity to earn while they learn. This forward-focus program combines classroom instruction with one to two years of on-the-job training with an end result in a “certification of mastery of a specific technical skill.” A youth apprenticeship may matriculate to a registered apprenticeship after high school. High school completion is a requirement of the program.
2. Cooperative Education (Co-Op): A structured training program for high school level students requiring a written contract and training plan between the high school and sponsored worksite. The program coordinates secondary studies with a job role in a field related to the academic and/or technical education objectives. The written training and evaluation plans guide workplace activities in coordination with classroom instruction. Students receive course credit for their Co-Op completion. Academic credit, compensation, and activities are district specific and may vary within the course of study.
3. Internship: A progressive, school-coordinated experience that places students in real workplace environments so that they develop and practice career-related knowledge and skills needed for a specific level job. An internship provides hands-on experience in a particular industry or occupation related to a student’s career interests, abilities, and goals. A learning contract outlines the expectations and responsibilities of the high school and worksite including a specified number of hours in the training agreement. The high school intern works regularly during or after school in exchange for the worksite mentor’s time in teaching and demonstrating. Internships usually lasts 1-2 semesters and may or may not include financial compensation. Prior to an internship, the student receives the established criteria and guidelines from the workplace supervisor. Throughout the internship, the supervisor evaluates the student and the WBL administrator evaluates the student through on-site visits. In order for an internship to earn a WBL credit, students must work / serve a minimum of 120 hours. The position must also align with the student's IGP / career cluster. Learn about career clusters https://mebasc.com/career-clusters/
4. Job Shadowing (On-Site) is a method of short-term, school-coordinated career exploration in which the student is introduced to a particular job role or career by being paired, one-on-one, with an employee at the worksite. The student “shadows” (follows) the employee for a specified time to better understand and observe work expectations and requirements of a variety of job tasks. Job shadowing is less intensive than the other WBL methods and is usually the first form of worksite assignment given to a student. Prior to job shadowing, the student should receive formalized instruction about careers and the process of career choice, develop appropriate questions to ask, and know the expectations as related to school rules and guidelines for grooming, dress, and behavior in the workplace. On-Site Job Shadowing does not provide any form of course credit. A classroom speaker is not considered a job-shadowing experience.
5. Job Shadowing (Virtual) provides work-based learning opportunities for students everywhere in the state, especially in rural areas with limited business partner accessibility due to distance or lack of worksite locations to meet student needs. A virtual shadowing experience is assessed for components that constitute quality virtual shadowing, including but not limited to the following: virtual tour of worksite with content provided, the capability to conduct question/answer exchanges, the overall quality of the site’s features, and the length of the experience. As with all quality WBL experiences, some type of product reflection should be required from the student. Each virtual experience should include preparation, engagement, and reflection. Virtual shadowing site examples: MicroCareerBurst and VirtualShadow.org.