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Work-Based Learning


Work-Based Learning is an educational approach that uses workplaces to structure learning experiences that contribute to the intellectual, social, academic, and career development of students.  These experiences supplement school activities that apply, reinforce, refine, or extend the learning that occurs at a worksite.

The workplace is considered an active learning environment where students acquire new knowledge and skills, learn by doing, and constantly improve their abilities.  Academic knowledge and skills learned through years of classroom instruction are applied to real life situations.

Benefit to Learners

Work-based learning activities can help young people to:

  • Strengthen academic skills;
  • Realize the relevance of a rigorous education and understand the need for academic success;
  • Gain real workplace experience and an understanding of career and educational options;
  • Become motivated to expand their learning through the hands-on approach of applying knowledge and gaining skills; and
  • Work with positive adult role models.

Benefit to Employers

Employers play an active role in shaping the quality of their future workforce when they participate in work-based learning activities. WBL can help business and industry in the following ways:

  • Expose young people to unfamiliar careers/businesses/industries
  • Expose young people to the needs and expectations of a business;
  • Improve the skill level of workers through their interaction with young people;
  • Improve community relations by helping local youth with employment and education;
  • Reduce employee training costs and turnover; and
  • Improve morale and management skills of adult workers.

Key Components of Work-Based Learning Experiences

The key components for any work-based learning experience are: 

A.  Applied, contextual learning
B.  Integration of worksite instruction with technical and school based instruction
C.  Alignment of academic standards with industry and national skill standards
D.  Meaningful learning experiences with well-defined tasks and outcomes
E.  Links to continued employment and/or further education

The work-based learning coordinator in collaboration with an employer is responsible for the operation and management of a program including essential written documentation on each student enrolled in the program. The documentation that needs to be maintained for each student is an Individual Training Agreement, Individual Training Plan, Student Performance Evaluations, Work-Based Learning Coordinator’s Observation Reports, and Safety Training Records.  As an employer of a student enrolled in a work-based learning program, the importance of this documentation cannot be overstated.

Individual Training Agreement

The Individual Training Agreement is a prepared document used to describe the length of the work experience, the hours and starting wages (or appropriate documentation for non-paid experiences), and the responsibilities of the student, work-based learning coordinator, employer, worksite supervisor and parent/guardian. This agreement protects all parties engaged in a work-based learning experience. This document requires the signatures of all parties prior to a student beginning at the worksite.

Standard information contained in a work-based learning training agreement should be student’s name and age; school’s name, address, and phone number; work-based learning coordinator’s name; employer’s or agency’s name, contact person, and phone number; and starting wages.  Specific information may be determined by local policy.

The responsibilities of the student, parent/guardian, school, employer, and supervisor need to be well defined and written in the agreement.  In addition, the persons responsible for all areas of safety training need to be identified.  For example:

Individual Training Agreement

Individual Training Agreement