Implementing Work-Based Learning In K12 – Six Tips From Industry

I just returned from the 2017 TalentFOUND Sectors Summit – an event focused on accelerating Work-Based Learning (WBL) opportunities for students. For those not familiar with WBL, here is a definition from the Colorado Development Network:

Work-Based Learning (WBL) – learning opportunities that occur in part or in whole in the workplace and provide the learner with hands-on, real world experience. Work-based learning opportunities include but are not limited to internships, apprenticeships, residencies and incumbent worker training.

A major theme in the conference was how industry, community partners, workforce organizations, and K-12 and post-secondary education entities can partner together to increase the number of WBL opportunities that are provided to students.  

I attended the K-12 education track in which a major focus was on helping K-12 educators understand how to best engage with industry to create WBL experiences. Here are my favorite pieces of advice that the industry representatives gave educators…

  1. Attend local industry association meetings to get to know local businesses and the type of competencies and skills they are looking for.
  2. Find a way to make WBL count as credit toward graduation. Be creative if need be and include the student in crosswalks of how their WBL experiences map to education standards.
  3. Discuss social good with your target industry partners and emphasize the fact that when employees help students with WBL activities, employee engagement increases.
  4. Investigate workplace tours, job shadows or even summer externships for your teachers. Educating teachers about careers and industry is critical so that they can best counsel students about WBL opportunities.
  5. Don’t forget about parents and guardians. Not only do students need to learn about career options and local industries, their families do too! Think about ways to include parents in industry tours, career days, or in sessions where students share details about their WBL experiences.
  6. When you do have success with an industry partner, summarize key results and student impact in an email that they can share within their organization and beyond. This makes it easier for them to get resources for future WBL activities with your students.

If you have other best practices from your own WBL efforts, please share them with us (info at  Thanks!

Laura FarrellyComment