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. Work-Based Learning Opportunities in Virginia-This is a Word document. gives a summary of the criteria for each WBL experience.
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.
Connecting WBL to Virginia’s 5 C’s
WBL experiences reinforce Virginia’s 5 C’s—critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creative thinking, and citizenship—by allowing students to apply these skills in a real-world business or service-oriented work environment. .
- Collaboration: Work with community members, peers, and mentors
- Communication: Write and present proposals; make requests and get permissions; publicize and present final project
- Citizenship: Understand laws and regulations; seek to improve the community; increase community awareness
- Creativity: Publicize/advertise project; solve problems; present findings
- Critical Thinking: Develop a project to meet a community need or solve a community problem
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.
Accompanying each WBL experience is a training agreement, a written statement of commitment made by the student, parent/guardian, WBL coordinator, and employer. It contains mutually agreed-upon expectations for all parties involved, spells out each party’s role, and addresses considerations such as employment terms, schedule, duration of work, compensation, and termination. It is the most important tool providing protection to the WBL coordinator and school officials against accusations of negligence and liability claims. It is important that each student placed in a WBL workplace have a completed training agreement on file. A training agreement must be used for the corresponding WBL experience.
Sample training agreements for each WBL experience are provided in the WBL Guide. They may be modified as appropriate by each program area or school division, but they must include the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (VDOLI) requirements (asterisk and italics items) found on the provided templates
A training plan is a document identifying the classroom instruction and workplace training that will contribute to the employability and ongoing development of a student (see 8VAC20-120-20).
Training plans are required for cooperative education and internship experiences, while apprenticeships and clinical experiences have corresponding documents governed by regulations in their respective areas. Refer to each section in the WBL Guide for templates for each type of experience.
The WBL coordinator, employer, and student must jointly prepare the training plan. The coordinator should discuss with the student the purpose of the training plan and how it is to be used. The student should be aware that some of the tasks will be learned in the workplace while others will be learned in the classroom. The student should be informed that the training plan will be used to measure job performance and should understand that an evaluation will take place each grading period and will be followed by conferences involving the student, the coordinator, and the employer.
The coordinator should schedule a conference with the employer to explain the use of the training plan as soon as the student is placed in a training position. At this time, those tasks that are to be learned in the workplace should be identified and indicated on the plan.
During each conference, the coordinator discusses the student’s progress with the employer. Using the training plan as an evaluation tool, the employer evaluates the student’s performance and progress in the workplace and completes the training plan with the coordinator. The employer’s evaluation is discussed with the student and is used to make modifications in the student’s training and to assist in determining the specific instruction to be provided in the classroom.
The training plan development process is continuous. It begins with identifying a realistic career objective and the training needs for each student and continues throughout the entire WBL experience with revising the plan according to the changing needs of the employer.
The training plan should contain items in three categories:
- Workplace readiness skills
- Specific duties and tasks performed on the job
- Related classroom instruction to ensure strong correlation with workplace training
The plan serves as a record of the student’s progress throughout the experience and provides documentation for evaluation. It should include development of the technical skills required by the occupation as well as enhancement of workplace readiness skills.
- 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