Work-Based Learning: Tips & Benefits

As a team of educators who have recently been students, we understand the importance and value of work-based learning activities. And it’s not only WBL (work-based learning) — also internships, co-ops, apprenticeships, so on and so forth. We like to label all of these programs under the “Experiential Learning” category. It’s these programs that are driving student success rates north and failure rates south.

For the sake of this blog, we’ll focus on the WBL, although the other styles of programs are also directly related to the content we’re about to discuss. There are quite a few benefits to work-based learning programs held at the secondary education level. So here are a few tips and insights into these various benefits.

Work-based learning activities offer the students an opportunity to engage in the building blocks of their career path. Oftentimes, it isn’t just about identifying what one wants to pursue, but also identifying what one does not want to pursue. A lack of career exploration leads to delayed growth of an individual’s network, further challenges during college, and runs the risk of graduation without a quality plan in place.

The idea of career exploration has evolved into compliance, as we’ll get into shortly, and it continues to trickle further down into K-12. The younger the student is, the greater of a chance the student has in identifying their passions, strengths, and building on weaknesses.

WBL offers the student an opportunity to “wet their feet” in the roles and industries they’re interested in. This experiential style of learning is beneficial to both the student and the employer as well, considering the employer now has new talent engaged in their work needed, and can eventually turn into a job with an already-trained student. This meaningful career exploration ensures the future of our workforce will be talented, skilled, and exposed to the world of careers earlier on in their lifetime.

A quality opportunity for students originates with a quality employer engaged with the school. It is crucial that the district does background checks on the employers considering the students are minors, which incurs increased liability. This is why we stated “quality” business partners and not just any businesses.

But to all educators, it is a responsibility of yours to identify and invite those said employers into your programs. Having a systemized work-based learning program will make this process of employer partnerships all the more efficient and impactful. These partners go well beyond providers of opportunities though — they become strategic partners in the growth of student success rates, the retention of talent in our community, and a stronger workforce collaborating with each other. A community together is stronger than one that stands in isolation. These WBL activities and overall career exploration are major avenues for collaboration within a community’s economy.

To the employers, you hold the role of providing quality opportunities to the pool of emerging talent ready to work. Although earlier in their career stage, students offer a variety of skills and bring new perspectives into the workforce. Businesses must curate positions and roles that can align with these skills and perspectives, knowing that it pays off in the long run with a highly skilled generation of emerging talent. Without the on-the-job experience nor training earlier in a students’ life, that training will have to be done in a later position, making WBL effective now.

As of recently, the Every Student Succeeds Act and Perkins Act require school districts across the country to comply with work-based learning regulations. These regulations include the actual programs students will be participating in across their communities as well as the administrative reporting to the state level. With 93% of these programs being facilitated by the outdated paper trail process, you can imagine the challenges districts are facing to comply, at least in an effective way. This brings us to our next point: the use of technology, and how it can alleviate the pains faced, relevant to these regulations. Nonetheless, these regulations are valuable to everyone involved, especially the students. The regulation will lead to a systemized approach to career exploration, ultimately bridging these values we are discussing which are products of WBL. Now, on to the point about technology.

Having to comply with the new regulations, wanting to over-serve the students, yet having to use an outdated process, all add up to an inefficiency in the school district. That is why Endevr has breached this untapped market and delivers software solutions that tackle these critical components of career exploration. The use of software puts the process at the fingertips of educators, administrators, business partners, students, and everyone else involved in the process.

A seamless online platform alleviates the hours exhausted by faculty having to facility their students’ activities on paper. It allows employers to close the gap in communication between themselves and the schools, as well as offers the student a meaningful opportunity relevant to their career pursuit and growth. Technology serves as the bridge between all stakeholders, and Endevr has designed its software to be just that.

Quick Tips for Students:

  • Take self-assessments often, you can find them online.
  • Initiate conversations with local businesses you’re interested in.
  • Leverage your schools’ technology and other resources.
  • Be open with your career counselors.
  • Have fun with it all, enjoy your career journey!

Quick Tips for Organizations:

  • Reach out to your local school district’s career and technology department to initiate a partnership.
  • Get creative with your roles at the office to include the younger demographic.
  • Train with flexibility — they are with you to learn and identify their strengths in which you can apply to the appropriate role.
  • Don’t be surprised if the young customer service intern suddenly flourishes on the marketing team — again, train with flexibility.
  • Be transparent with your new talent, it will help everyone grow.

On behalf of the team at Endevr, we hope you found value in this week’s blog, Work-Based Learning: Tips and Benefits [Part One]. For further reliable information, check out this article posted by Forbes.