Presents key principles for effective work-based learning that respond to the needs of both employers and underserved populations, based on models that expand access in Washington State, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, California, and elsewhere.

“Americans seeking employment often face a conundrum: relevant work experience is a prerequisite for many jobs, but it is difficult to gain the required experience without being in the workplace. Work-based learning—activities that occur in workplaces through which youth and adults gain the knowledge, skills, and experience needed for entry or advancement in a particular career field—offers a solution to this problem. But although the benefits of work-based learning are clear, they have accrued primarily to the most highly educated and socially connected segments of the U.S. population” (p.2).

This brief presents “models of work-based learning that expand access for the many people who don’t currently ben­efit from these opportunities. The first part of the pa­per situates the need for increased access to work-based learning in the context of career pathways strategies designed to increase economic mobility for underserved populations. The next section of the paper defines work-based learning and explains its core purposes. The remainder of the paper expands on each of the seven principles, laying out the bene­fits of each and providing examples of programs and initiatives that are already incorporating the princi­ples” (p.3). The case studies include:

·         WorkSource Spokane (Spokane, Washington)

·         12 For Life (Carrollton, Georgia)

·         Apprenticeship 2000 (North Carolina)

·         District 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund (Philadelphia area, Pennsylvania)

·         Industrial Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship (Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan)

·         Jobs to Manufacturing Careers (Kentucky)

·         Taller San Jose Medical Careers Academy (Orange County, California)

“The principles for effective models of work-based learning laid out in this paper are a response to the opportunity created by the current climate of re­newed enthusiasm about and investment in work-based learning on the part of employers and the ed­ucation and workforce development systems. 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” (p.18).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The author describes, presents examples of, and makes recommendations related to seven key principles for work-based learning. “[These] principles provide a structure that can guide multiple stakeholders” (p.18). • “Support entry and advancement in a career track - Effective models of work-based learning provide participants with opportunities to build knowledge, develop skills, and advance in specific career paths. Work-based learning supports the development of both industry-specific technical skills and professional skills, such as communications, teamwork, and problem solving, valued by nearly all employers” (p.11). • “Provide meaningful job tasks that build career skills and knowledge - Participants in work-based learning must have opportunities to engage in approximately complex and relevant tasks…aligned with participants’ career goals” (p.12). • Offer compensation - Compensating work-based learning participants honors individuals’ contributions and helps them remain focused and motivated….Compensation is critical to an equitable approach to education and training” (p.13). • “Identify target skills and how gains will be validated - Mutual understanding of the skills to be attained through work-based learning increases its value to both students and employers. Effective approaches to articulating and validating skills include reflective practices that lead to continuous learning and ensure integration with larger learning goals and formal assessments through which participants can demonstrate mastery of job competencies” (p.14). • “Reward skill development - Effective work-based learning models reinforce learning by recognizing and rewarding skills development. Participants who succeed in their initial assignments should be given opportunities to continue to grow through taking on greater responsibility and more challenging tasks” (p.15). • “Support college entry, persistence, and completion - By enhancing and contextualizing students’ classroom learning, work-based learning plays an important role in (reengaging students and equipping them with postsecondary degrees and credentials with value in the labor market” (p.16). • “Provide comprehensive student supports - Effective work-based learning incorporates career navigation structures that equip students with the information they need to make informed choices about their careers” (p.17). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)