Quality work-based learning experiences (WBLEs) that are appropriately designed and implemented, enable students to acquire the attitudes, skills, and knowledge needed to succeed in today’s job market. If you are beginning the process of creating your first work-based learning opportunity or collaborating with an established work-based learning program, developing an understanding of a quality program’s elements is vital.

Quality work-based learning experiences should lead students to:

  • Discover their interests, strengths, and supports needed at the worksite
  • Identify job tasks they like and don’t enjoy performing in a career field
  • Explore multiple career options
  • Master skills for specific occupations
  • Engage in learning opportunities in the classroom and at the worksite

Elements required for quality work-based learning experiences:

  • Defined roles and responsibilities for providers of Pre-ETS, teachers, worksite supervisors, and other key personnel
  • Opportunities for students to reflect on their experiences. This can be accomplished through face-to-face meetings or in writing
  • Documentation of student learning through the development of work samples and portfolios
  • Expectations and feedback that assess progress toward students achieving work-related goals
  • Supervision of students from support staff, teachers and employers
  • Alignment with postsecondary education and career opportunities
  • Compliance with state and federal labor laws

Key elements for Pre-ETS provider role:

  1. Collaboration:

A provider can be the hub of collaboration and communication for WBLEs. They are coordinating with school personnel, employers / companies, as well as students and their families. There can be a lot of moving parts to WBLEs, so having consistent and open communication is a very important element for quality and success.

  1. Meeting Student Needs:

WBLEs can look very different for each student based on interests, learning styles and available experiences.  Some students will need more individualized supports. Summer is a great time for students to engage in work-based learning experiences.

  1. Organization

Tracking progress of students allows for evaluation of WBLEs. Progress can be tracked through documentation of learning, as well as feedback on students. Evaluation of WBLEs allows for changes to be made in order to optimize the benefits of the learning experiences for students.