In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, American workers are being displaced in record numbers. They need help navigating the muddy landscape of the new economy and workforce. As we partner with Workforce Development Boards and employers across the country, we continue to see work-based learning (WBL) initiatives and funding reemerging as critical regional strategies to help the millions of people who are struggling to start or advance in their careers.
Effective, work-based learning strategies build a bridge between learning and real work experiences. WBL helps learners foster an appreciation for, and familiarity with, the workplace, develops critical skills, and establishes professional networks. It creates a clear pipeline of talent for employers and makes them partners in developing the skills our workforce needs.
In this blog, you will learn more about work-based learning and why it’s important for your region, benefits of effective WBL strategies, different types of WBL initiatives, and finally, how successful partnerships can be developed between stakeholders.
Why is WBL Important?
Well-designed work-based learning opportunities provide participants with occupational and work readiness training while also providing necessary income support for disconnected and at-risk individuals. These opportunities help youth and adults make the connection between academic principles and real world applications.
Who is Involved in Work-based Learning?
The successful design and implementation of work-based learning requires collaboration among a range of workforce, industry, and education stakeholders.
WBL creates opportunities for employers and program leaders to provide structured learning experiences to develop workplace readiness, and technical and life skills. It is a process that allows participants to learn about career exploration, business connections, learning about the functions of an organization, and understanding the relevance of their education. Work-based learning experiences are activities that involve actual work experience or that connect classroom learning to employment and careers.
Effective work-based learning is usually facilitated by trained, qualified, and credentialed professionals. Partner non-profits or human service agencies may similarly employ career development staff, employment professionals, job placement specialists or internship coordinators to help participants reach their learning goals.
WBL is an Effective Tool for Businesses.
The benefit of being able to try out an employee is a low-stakes way to see if they are a good fit and eliminates making a big investment up front. Wages are subsidized by various federal and local funding sources, which is also very helpful for small businesses.
NC Region Spotlight: Cape Fear Youth Work-based Learning Program
WBL can provide a well-rounded method of building a person’s drive and professional development as they prepare for a stable and satisfying career, as demonstrated below.
Over the course of 2 years, our North Carolina region worked with community partner TRU Colors and provided 7 participants with a work-based learning experience in their specialized training boot camp where they were exposed to a wide scope of career field interests like Human Resources, Project Management, Social Media Marketing, Brewery, Finance Management and Territory Mapping. After completion of the 8-week training, all 7 participants were placed into full-time positions.
We are committed to creating successful regional partnerships with local workforce boards to support jobseekers and clients.
Reach out to us if you’d like to partner or hear more about how to develop strong WBL programs in your region.