Work-based learning (WBL) happens on a variety of levels for both students and providers. The methods for providing instruction for WBL can be broken down into three sequential levels- Industry and Career Awareness, Career Exploration and Preparation, and Career Training Experiences. These methods of instruction can occur in-school, after school, outside the traditional school setting, or in an integrated environment. 

Industry and Career Awareness

Students will develop a broad understanding of industry trends, how school relates to the world of work, and an appreciation of new careers of interest they might not have otherwise considered. The students are learning about work through exploring various careers. Employers or other community members’ involvement is what differentiates this method from the Pre-ETS category of job exploration. 


  • Informational interviews
  • Career mentorship
  • Job shadowing
  • Worksite tours


  • Broaden options for career paths in the community
  • Develop an understanding of how postsecondary education can lead to success
  • Gain knowledge of the workplace and culture
  • Understand employer expectations
  • Identify the skills or experiences needed to reach career goals
  • Increase motivation and decision-making skills

Activities that support industry and career awareness: 

  • Classroom:
    • Instruction on topics such as career awareness and career research, career-specific guest speakers, professional skill development
  • Worksite and community:
    • Attending career fairs, visiting local colleges, exploring community by creating community maps, career mentorships, workplace tours, job shadow (in-person and virtual), informational interviews

Career Exploration and Preparation

Career exploration and preparation provide students with opportunities to explore specific careers and areas of interest while also developing necessary, career-related skills. This is referred to as learning through the work phase.


  • School-based enterprise/Student-run enterprise
  • Extensive job shadowing
  • Simulated work experiences
  • Internships (paid and non-paid)


  • Deepen a student’s knowledge about careers of interests and the workplace
  • Provide students with experiences in a professional setting
  • Increase opportunities at the worksite to develop workplace readiness skills
  • Assist the student in understanding the relevance of academic and vocational courses available at their school.

Activities that support career exploration and preparation

  • Classroom: Instruction on topics such as industry research and exploring career options, career guidance, self-assessments and career-related projects that encourage career exploration.
  • Worksite and community: Community service projects, internships, summer internships, mock interviews, and job shadowing

Career Training Experiences

Career training opportunities for employment and postsecondary education are tailored to the student’s interests and skills. As students engage in career training experiences, they develop career-specific skills and have opportunities to demonstrate and practice these skills while gaining employability and technical skills. This is referred to as the learning to work phase because students are immersed in a specific career choice.


  • Paid or non-paid employment
  • Apprenticeships
  • On-the-job training
  • Service-learning opportunities

Objectives/ Benefits:

  • Acquire and apply the skills necessary for college and employment
  • Create an understanding of skills that can be transferred from one job to another
  • Learn to work as a team member
  • Expand professional networks
  • Develop mastery of occupation-specific skills

Activities that support career training experiences

  • Classroom: Career coaching, technical skills training, and workplace readiness activities
  • Worksite and Community: Volunteering, career-related competitions, completion of industry certifications, apprenticeships, and service-learning.