Work-based learning (WBL) is comprised of school-coordinated workplace experiences that are related to students’ career goals and/or interests, are integrated with instruction, and are performed in partnership with local businesses and organizations. WBL experiences enable students to apply classroom instruction in a real-world business or service-oriented work environment. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) recognizes 11 WBL experiences. Virginia’s career and technical education (CTE) programs include the following components:
- Classroom instruction – the essential component for students to master the academic and technical competencies, attitudes, and work ethic necessary for career success and lifelong learning
- Career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) – organizations that provide experiences that reinforce and strengthen classroom learning and prepare students for individual responsibility, teamwork, and leadership in their chosen career pathways
- WBL experiences – opportunities for students to apply and refine knowledge, attitudes, and skills through professionally coordinated and supervised work experience directly related to career goals
The WBL experience component builds on the benefits of the other two components by assisting students with the transition from the classroom to the workplace. Students’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes are enhanced by participation in supervised, authentic experiences. WBL experiences are valuable because they help students develop careers beyond their secondary and postsecondary education.
Work-Based Learning Methods of Instruction
There are eleven different WBL methods of instruction currently practiced in Virginia – job shadowing, mentorship, service learning, externship, school-based enterprise, internship, entrepreneurship, clinical experience, cooperative education, youth registered apprenticeship, and registered apprenticeship. As students participate in WBL experiences, their various paths can be can be grouped into three categories – career awareness, career exploration, and career preparation.
Career awareness activities prepare students for WBL experiences. These activities are designed to increase student awareness of personal interests and talents along with the education and training needed to pursue a career goal. Through career awareness activities, students gain an initial understanding of work, various industries, and different career pathways. Career awareness activities ideally lead to WBL experiences where students can deepen their knowledge of career pathways and begin applying skills learned in the classroom. Examples of career awareness activities are guest speakers, career days or college and career fairs, field trips and workplace tours, videos or presentations about various professions, and opportunities to conduct informational interviews.
Career exploration experiences encourage students to develop personal career interests, a better understanding of pathways to a chosen career, and the workplace readiness skills needed to make informed decisions regarding secondary and postsecondary education and training. These experiences are typically of shorter duration. Students may be assigned supplementary work connected with the activity and may be graded on their performance in a way that contributes to the final grade in a CTE class.
Career preparation experiences deepen student knowledge and develop skills necessary for success in employment and postsecondary education. These experiences are recommended for students who have a clear goal of entering the workforce directly after high school or of enrolling in a closely related postsecondary training program. These experiences are structured primarily to give students extensive practice in applying fundamental technical and practical knowledge and skills in their chosen careers. Career preparation experiences take place over a longer timeframe and involve more responsibilities.
Experience Works – A Convening of Business Leaders and Educators
Held annually, this convening brings together business, industry, and educators and focuses on building positive WBL experiences for CTE students throughout the Commonwealth. The targeted audience includes work-based learning (WBL) instructors and coordinators, career and technical education administrators, school counselors and administrators, career coaches, and business and industry leaders. Highlights include: concurrent sessions featuring best practices and establishing and development business partnerships for the work-based learning instructional methods, career opportunities, strategic discussions between business leaders and educators, and a selection of industry tours in the Greater Richmond area.
June 19-20, 2019
- A Convening of Business Leaders and Educators – Superintendent’s Memo 075-19
- Draft Agenda-This is a Word document.
- Industry Tour Descriptions-This is a Word document.
- Overview of Work-Based Learning Methods of Instruction-This is a PDF document. (PDF) – Print size is 8 ½ x14
- Administrative Code and Code of Virginia – Child Labor LawsThis is a PDF document. (PDF)
- Virginia Labor and Employment Law
- Federal Labor and Employment Law for Youth
- Update of Child Labor Regulations for the 21st Century
- Frequently Asked Questions Concerning the Child Labor Law
- Federal and State Labor Laws for Youth Work-Based Learning (Comparison tool)-This is a Word document.
- Cooperative Education Brochure
- Related Web Sites for Work-Based Learning