work-based learning

Work-based learning (WBL) expands the walls of the classroom by exposing students to a variety of industries and skills in ways that are not possible in the classroom alone.

WBL creates meaning for students by narrowing the gap between classroom learning and workplace practices. WBL activities businesses can provide include:

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Career Days are events that offer students insight into the working world. Career Day activities include mock interviews, career fairs, speaker panels and workshops. Students can engage with industry representatives to gain a greater understanding of the qualifications necessary for different careers.


Classroom speakers are working individuals who visit schools and programs to build career awareness among students. The speaker encourages students to intentionally explore their interests and set career goals. Representatives provide an overview about the company or business, discuss careers and education requirements within their industries and share stories about their paths to get to where they are.


Job-shadowing provides an opportunity for students to visit area businesses and organizations to spend time with a professional currently working in a career field of interest. Job-shadowing offers students a chance to see what it is actually like to work in a specific job and to have their questions answered.


Workplace tours welcome students to visit a business for a day of career exploration. Students learn about day-to-day operations and what types of jobs are available. Workplace tours may be aligned with specific industries that correspond to 21st century skills and careers in demand.


Internships, apprenticeships, and cooperative education are WBL opportunities that provide students with hands-on work experience. These experiences are employer-driven and designed to promote a more interactive opportunity for students to advance in their education and career development.


Academies and Camps provide hands-on experiences within specific career fields, and generally occur within one or more weeks during the summer months when students are out of school. There may be a tuition cost to participate with some full or partial scholarships available.


Career Exploring Programs provide opportunities to interact with professionals representing various pathways within specific career fields. The goal is to help young adults make a more informed decision about future careers and determine if a particular career is the right one for them.


Apprenticeships provide high school juniors and seniors with opportunities to learn specific trades or professions and combines practical work experiences with related academic and technical instruction. It is a strategy used by employers to address current and projected employment needs. This program is a partnership among business, industry, government, parents and youth apprentices. Like an internship, an apprenticeship can be paid or unpaid; however, an apprenticeship is much more focused and can take up to one to five years to complete, depending on which occupation is chosen.


An internship is program that offers practical experience for beginners in an occupation or profession. Internships provide students with the opportunity to observe and participate in daily operations, develop direct contact with job personnel, ask questions about particular careers and perform certain job tasks. Internships can be paid or unpaid work experiences.


Cooperative education provides on-the-job training for students through an agreement among the school, employer, the parents/guardian and the students. Students receive content instruction related to their on-the-job training experiences. Like an internship, co-ops provide real work experience; however, a co-op allows students to receive academic credit. In addition, cooperatives assist students with their professional development and supplement the employers workforce with emerging talent.


Volunteer Service provides participants with the opportunity to serve in programs offered by government agencies and non-profit organizations that fulfill specific needs for target populations within the community. Volunteer Service is generally an unpaid WBL experience


Growing concern about the high school drop-out rate, coupled with fast-changing economic conditions, make preparing students for their futures critical.

Graduating with a high school diploma is no longer enough for today's students entering a more competitive marketplace - education or training beyond a high school diploma is imperative.

Students need the opportunity to explore their career interests in order to make informed decisions about their education. This exploration comes through work-based learning (WBL). WBL affords students the opportunity to become acquainted with careers of interest while gaining understanding of real work practices and learning core workplace competencies such as problem-solving, communication, and critical thinking.

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