Work-based Learning

Work-based learning is one of 12 elements of high-quality CTE, defined in ACTE’s comprehensive, research-based Quality CTE Program of Study Framework. This element addresses the delivery of a continuum of work-based learning involving sustained, meaningful interactions with industry or community professionals that foster in-depth, firsthand engagement with the tasks required in a given career field. Experiences may be delivered in workplaces, in the community, at educational institutions and/or virtually, as appropriate, and include a range of activities such as workplace tours, job shadowing, school-based enterprises, internships and apprenticeships. The following reports, articles, guides and toolkits can help you develop and implement high-quality work-based learning.

Work-based Learning Strategies

Work-based Learning Strategies

Taking Business to School Case Study Series
ACTE, various

These case studies examine how employers across industries have engaged with education institutions, both secondary and postsecondary, to develop career pathways and provide meaningful work-based learning that leads to careers.

Career Exploration in Middle School: Setting Students on the Path to Success
ACTE, May 2017

Career exploration is offered to middle school students through exploratory and introductory CTE courses, personalized education and career planning, and opportunities to explore future options through career and technical student organizations and work-based learning activities. This report from ACTE, with support from Career Cruising (now Xello), provides examples of these delivery methods and recommendations to help teachers, counselors and administrators implement and improve these practices at the program, school and district levels.

The Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education: Employer Engagement at Its Best 
Leveridge, ACTE Techniques Magazine, March 2016

KY FAME created an apprentice-style hybrid model designed to develop globally competitive talent locally.

Work-Based Learning for the New Economy: From “K to J” in Tennessee
Gibney, ACTE Techniques Magazine, May 2015

This article describes Tennessee’s development of a process for career preparation across a “kindergarten to job” continuum, premised on early intervention and ongoing exposure, and how policy is translating to practice.

Workplace Immersion for Accelerated Learning
Jacobson, ACTE Techniques Magazine, April 2015

Learning at work functions as an immersion experience that engages the senses and focuses students’ attention on the tasks at hand, speeding up the creation of brain-based connections.

Work-based Learning: The Key to Connecting Students to the World of Work
Xanthis, ACTE Techniques Magazine, January 2015

Staff from New York’s Orange-Ulster BOCES Career and Technical Education Center describes how, over 25 years, the school has built connections to provide meaningful work-based learning.

Learning to Learn: Why the Supervised Ag Experience Is Key to Agricultural Education
Fritsch, ACTE Techniques Magazine, October 2013

The National Council for Agricultural Education, an umbrella group that represents all sectors of agricultural education, is mounting a campaign to bring supervised agricultural experiences back into every high school agricultural education program.

Knowledge is the Key to Helping Students Choose Their Path
Williams, ACTE Techniques Magazine, January 2017

A teacher describes the professional development workshop process she designed for her students, including college and career research in the classroom, a single job-shadowing day within the career the student researched, reflection on the experience and a classroom presentation.

Work-based Learning Opportunities for High School Students
Alfeld, Charner, Johnson and Watts, FHI 360, February 2013

This report describes similarities and differences, as well as strengths and limitations, across three major work-based learning categories—internships/co-operative education, youth apprenticeships and school-based enterprises—supplemented by vignettes, case studies and descriptions of selected work-based learning sites.

Connecting the Classroom to Careers: Measuring Work-based Learning for Continuous Improvement
Advance CTE, August 2016

The brief highlights examples from West Virginia, Tennessee and Massachusetts that demonstrate either a systems-level or student-level approach to measuring work-based learning activities.

Apprenticeship Strategies

Apprenticeship Strategies

Pennsylvania Youth Apprenticeship Program: Over 20 Years of On-the-Job Training
Scarpello, ACTE Techniques Magazine, January 2015

For more than two decades, students at North Montco Technical Career Center in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, have been working on the job in the Pennsylvania Youth Apprenticeship Program.

Opportunities for Connecting Secondary CTE Students and Apprenticeship Programs
Kreamer and Zimmermann, Advance CTE, June 2017

This report profiles eight secondary apprenticeship programs in order to identify strategies to connect CTE with apprenticeship programs. The report classifies each program as either an apprenticeship, youth apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship and maps each by the degree of instructional alignment and program articulation.

Promising Practices for Successful High School Apprenticeships
Curry, American School Counselor Association, 2018

This book offers comprehensive guidance on high school apprenticeships, including defining types of apprenticeship and work-based learning programs, developing memoranda of understanding, placing students, accommodating special populations, identifying and training supervisors, pursuing accountability and developing employability skills.

Overcoming Access and Equity Challenges

Overcoming Access and Equity Challenges

Not As Hard As You Think: Engaging High School Students in Work-Based Learning and What Employers Need to Know: Frequently Asked Questions about High School Students in Workplaces
Cahill and Jackson, Jobs for the Future, April and May 2015

The first brief features case studies on the ways that employers have managed the logistics of work-based learning. The second brief provides answers to the most frequently asked questions about access to workplaces for students under the age of 18.

Connecting the Classroom to Careers: Removing Legal Barriers around Work-based Learning
Advance CTE, April 2016

The legal barriers to work-based learning can be dismantled by training teachers to understand state and federal legal, health and safety requirements for work-based learning and by mitigating work-based learning liability concerns for schools and employers.

CTE on the Frontier: Connecting Rural Learners to the World of Work
Advance CTE, September 2017

This publication addresses how to bring the physical experience of work-based learning and employer engagement directly to learners through simulated workplace experiences, innovative satellite campuses and mobile labs.

Simulated Work-based Learning: Instructional Approaches and Noteworthy Practices
Moyer, Snodgrass, Klein and Tebben, National Center for Innovation in Career Technical Education, September 2017

This paper explores the potential benefits of simulated work-based learning for CTE students. Researchers evaluated CTE programs at nine sites within three models: 1) those using simulation tools to teach occupationally specific skills; 2) simulated workplaces, intended to replicate jobsite conditions; and 3) school-based enterprises, operated as student-run businesses that produce and sell products or services

Youth with Disabilities in Work-Based Learning Programs: Factors that Influence Success
Scholl and Mooney, Journal for Vocational Special Needs Education, 2003/2004

This article presents the findings of a research study on youth with disabilities who participated in Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship Program. The researchers identify key factors that enhance the capacity of youth with disabilities to complete the program and make a successful transition.

Curriculum-Based Virtual Field Trips: Career Development Opportunities for Students with Disabilities
Elleven et. al, Journal for Vocational Special Needs Education, 2006

Virtual field trips can be particularly effective for students with disabilities. This article describes the steps for creating a customized curriculum-based virtual field trip.

Work-based Learning Guides, Toolkits and Standards

Work-based Learning Guides, Toolkits and Standards

Preparing Youth for Life: The Gold Standards for High School Internships
National Academy Foundation

This document serves to identify a set of “gold standards” for high school internships, and to offer strategies for achieving this vision.

Work Based Learning in Linked Learning: Definitions, Outcomes, and Quality Criteria
ConnectEd California

This publication shares definitions, student learning outcomes and criteria for designing and assessing experiences along the work-based learning continuum, from career awareness through career exploration, career preparation and career training.

Work-Based Learning Manual
FHI 360

A how-to guide with suggestions and tools for planning and conducting specific activities across the work-based learning continuum, at school, at a worksite or virtually.

Work-based Learning Toolkit
ConnectEd Studios

This online toolkit helps district staff, pathway teams and work-based learning coordinators develop work-based learning experiences across the work-based learning continuum. Resources have been vetted by partners from the National Academy Foundation, the College and Career Academy Support Network and ConnectEd.

Internship Handbook for Career Academies
Winthrop, College and Career Academy Support Network, 2001

This internship handbook designed for career academies addresses legal issues and student, coordinator and employer roles and responsibilities, and includes a variety of forms such as standards of conduct, an orientation checklist, a work site learning plan, guidelines for industry participants, a work site log, and assessment and evaluation forms.

Forms on File: Work-based Learning ($)
Copeland, National Center for College and Career Transitions, 2015

Forms on File: Work Based Learning offers the documents you need for internships, apprenticeships, job shadowing and other work-based learning experiences. You will find everything from applications to learning plans to student and employer evaluations, which can be tailored to your program’s needs, as well as checklists to make sure nothing is missed.

CTE Work-based Learning Guide
Virginia Department of Education, 2017

This state guide features information on work-based learning guidelines and regulations, student selection and placement, preparation and follow-up, training agreements and reporting. It concludes with templates for recommendations, evaluations, calendars, completion certificates, invitations to partners and even a script for a work-based learning training sponsor appreciation luncheon.

Work-based Learning Toolkit
Tennessee Department of Education

The Implementation Guide is a professional development resource for work-based learning coordinators, counselors and administrators in Tennessee. It provides successful practices and may be used for personal and local development.

Work-Based Learning Manual Guidelines and Tools to Support Work-Based Learning for All Learners
Vermont Agency of Education, 2017

This Vermont handbook addresses work-based learning standards, roles and responsibilities, assessment, evaluation, safety, confidentiality, labor laws and liability.

Worksite Learning Manual 
Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, 2012

Washington’s Worksite Learning Manual focuses on worksite learning coordinator qualifications and steps for worksite learning coordinators to take when managing work-based learning programs, including reporting, insurance and considerations for special populations.

Work-Based Learning Manual 
Kentucky Office of Career and Technical Education, March 2015

Kentucky’s guide to work-based learning provides action items, resources and templates specific to each type of work-based learning, including service learning, mentoring, shadowing, entrepreneurship, school-based enterprises, internships, cooperative education and apprenticeship.

Apprenticeship Guides and Toolkits

Apprenticeship Guides and Toolkits

Building Registered Apprenticeship Programs: A Quick-start Toolkit
U.S. Department of Labor

This toolkit provides helpful steps and resources to start and register an apprenticeship program, from exploring the apprenticeship model as a workforce strategy to launching a new program.

Registered Apprenticeship Toolkit
U.S. Department of Labor

This collection of online resources is intended to help you build strong partnerships, plan apprenticeship strategies and fully integrate apprenticeship into your system. It also includes stories of successful apprenticeship programs and partnerships.

Framework on Apprenticeship for High School Students
U.S. Department of Labor, January 2017

The Framework on Registered Apprenticeship for High School Students provides guidance from the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education on offering high-quality apprenticeship programs for secondary students, and summarizes federal child labor laws.

High School Apprenticeships: A Guide for Starting Successful Programs
U.S. Department of Labor, 2010

A resource for high schools, colleges, businesses, community organizations and others seeking to collaborate on high-quality high school apprenticeships, this guide covers the basics of building a high school apprenticeship program and includes examples of program strategies.

High School Apprenticeship Case Studies
U.S. Department of Labor

Case studies describe how two programs are using high school apprenticeship to achieve results for youth and businesses.

Wisconsin Youth Apprenticeship: Action Planning Guide for Local Communities
Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, 2008

A Wisconsin-specific resource, this action planning tool helps you develop a state-approved Youth Apprenticeship program, including organizing a steering committee, selecting the occupational areas, holding a community information meeting, recruiting employers, designing the program, securing approval, recruiting and selecting students, training instructors and workplace mentors, and developing operational procedures.

Policies and Procedures for Bridging Youth Apprenticeship to Registered Apprenticeship
Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, 2015

Another Wisconsin resource, this guide compiles policies and procedures for linking local Youth Apprenticeship Programs to the Wisconsin Registered Apprenticeship Program.

Outreach to Youth and Parents on Apprenticeships: Sample Materials

These outreach materials were created specifically to speak to the questions and concerns of young people and their parents about what apprenticeship might have to offer.