According to the Wells Fargo/Gallup survey, small businesses report that their primary challenge is hiring and retaining qualified staff. To tackle this issue, policymakers increasingly promote work-based learning (WBL). WBL generally combines classroom learning with on-the-job experience, such as apprenticeships. These resources review current state policies supporting WBL, discuss components of effective WBL, and examine pre-apprenticeship programs in the construction industry.

Work-Based Learning Policy: 50-State Scan. 2017. The authors of this resource profile work-based learning policies in a state-by-state format that policymakers, researchers, and practitioners can reference, and describe the extent to which work-based learning policies have been implemented across the nation. Work-based learning policies are organized “into five categories: expansion initiatives, employer subsidies that may be either grants or tax credits, support for pre-apprenticeships or youth apprenticeships, other secondary student work-based learning policies, and policies supporting postsecondary classroom instruction for apprenticeships.” The analysis revealed that “thirty-five states [have] a state policy supporting work-based learning. Twenty-six of these states have a work-based learning policy that supports adult training.”


Making Work-Based Learning Work. 2016. This paper presents seven key principles for effective work-based learning that respond to the needs of both employers and underserved populations. Based on models in Washington State, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, California, and elsewhere, the principles “provide participants with opportunities to build knowledge, develop skills, and advance in specific career paths.” The paper concludes that “these principles can serve to sharpen strategies that close the skills gap and help build the workforce of the future while providing new pathways to career advancement and economic opportunity for millions of Americans.”


A Solid Foundation: Key Capacities of Construction Pre-Apprenticeship Programs. 2012. This paper provides recommendations to policymakers about how to structure pre-apprenticeship programs to help low-income adults enter and advance in the construction industry, and to train a skilled workforce that meets the needs of employers. Based on site visits to four programs, the report cites that these programs “help workers move from job to job in order to advance in the industry and prepare them for periods of unemployment in a seasonal and cyclical industry where jobs are often short-term.” These visits also revealed some challenges, “including performance measurements that are out of alignment with program strategies.” To help these programs address these challenges, the authors make five recommendations, such as setting “performance measures that account for programs’ overall goals, participant and industry needs, and labor market realities.”