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Questions and Answers

Why Work Based Learning?
Many students leave school ill-prepared for the workplace.

Poor academic skills and work habits may limit students' understanding of how they might fit into the adult world. Work based learning addresses this problem by extending the walls of the classroom to include the whole community, giving students real world experiences and opportunities to apply academic and occupational skills in the workplace. Work based learning is an integral part of school-to-career's transition, combining school based learning and work based learning into experiences for all students that integrate technical and academic skills.

Through work based learning, "Employers reinforce academic lessons, schools emphasize career applications, and students gain experience in the adult world of work and connections to a range of postsecondary options, including college, technical training, and skilled entry-level work." (Jobs for the Future, Cambridge, MA) The National Occupational Information Coordinating Committee defines career development as a "life-long process through which individuals come to understand themselves as they relate to the world of work and their role in it."


What is work-based Learning?
Work based learning takes place at both the work site and school site and is an initiative to make lifelong career development easier and more natural by linking learning at school to application of learning at the work site.
Work site learning occurs in a business or community organization away from school. School site learning focuses on academic career preparation as part of the classroom curriculum. These school-to-career activities combine to create a lifelong process of career development stretching from preschool to adulthood.

Most people experience four overlapping stages in their career selection and preparation process: career awareness, career exploration, school site career preparation, and work site career applications. School-to-career activities are designed to help students move through these stages and learn about the world of work and their place in it. These four stages provide a framework for understanding the sequence and scope of work based learning activities and when activities may be appropriate for students.

What Are the Benefits of work-based learning?
Benefits for students:

  • Promotes the practice of positive work habits and attitudes
  • Enhances understanding of workplace expectations
  • Increases motivation to stay in school
  • Reduces educational costs
  • Establishes professional contacts for future employment and mentoring
  • Increases technical skills and participation in authentic tasks
  • Allows observation of demeanor and procedures of workplace professionals

Benefits for Employers:

  • Helps create a pool of skilled and motivated potential employees
  • Improves employee retention
  • Reduces training/recruiting costs
  • Enables organization to develop new projects with student assistance
  • Encourages involvement in the curriculum development process
  • Provides developmental opportunities for current workforce
  • Offers opportunities to provide community service

Benefits for Schools:

  • Expands curriculum and learning facilities
  • Provides access to state-of-the-art techniques and technology
  • Enhances ability to meet the needs of diverse student populations
  • Provides opportunities for individualized instruction
  • Promotes faculty interactions with the community
  • Contributes to staff development
  • Makes education more relevant and valuable for students
  • Enhances student retention
  • Reduces overcrowding by utilizing off-campus learning sites
  • Provides an alternative to building additional classrooms and labs to accommodate growth

Benefits for the Community:

  • Creates an environment of collaboration and cooperation
  • Encourages respect and tolerance between different groups
  • Builds the foundation for a more productive economy
  • Builds confidence in the school system as practical results are observable