JFF is a non-profit with a mission to transform the American workforce and education system in order to provide everyone with equal opportunity for economic advancement. Last month, JFF released a report entitled ‘Promising Trends and Challenges in Work-Based Learning: A Market Scan of Organizations and Tools’.
JFF defines work-based learning as ‘an educational strategy that provides learners with real-life work experiences that complement their academic instruction. These experiences typically occur at an employer's worksite, where students participate in on-the-job learning, have an opportunity to develop skills that transfer to work, and receive supervision and mentoring on the job. Various forms of work-based learning include internships, on-the-job training, workplace simulations, and more recently, a growing number of high school-based apprenticeships.’
The JFF market scan included categorization and listing of tech-based and face-to-face solutions in the areas of career experience, career exposure, and career engagement. The report indicated which programs were employer-driven or included curriculum resources. Furthermore, it categorized solutions by distinguishing features such as internships, career and college planning, competitions, mentoring, games-based learning, job simulations, assessments/analytics, and badges/microcredentials. Couragion was pleased to be included as one of the tools in the report in the category of tech-based career exposure tools. Our application was also recognized in the distinguishing features categories of games-based learning and job simulations. Given our complete platform, Couragion could also have been included in the badges/microcredentials category with our new Couragion Challenges and the assessments/analytics category with our Workforce DNA analytics solution.
In addition to offering a landscape view of the work-based learning market, I appreciated that JFF also included key challenges faced in the market. Some of the challenges that JFF highlighted were a) low income youth, in particular, often have limited access to work-based learning experiences, b) geography is still a major access factor, c) mentorships are limited due to human resource constraints, and d) youth are not seeing the connection between careers and what they learn at school. At Couragion, we are working hard to mitigate these challenges. For example, our platform provides access to work-based learning experiences regardless of income levels – in fact, the large majority of the students we work with qualify for free/reduced lunch. In addition, because our tool is a responsive web application it allows for use by any student regardless of their geographic location. We also help to alleviate limitations around mentorship programs in that our app provides all students (not just the limited number who can be matched with a live mentor) with access to diverse career role models. And finally, we intentionally include content that helps students see the real-world applicability of their coursework. For example, our role models detail which classes they use most in their career or our CS Challenges allow students to try their hand at technology work tasks which enable them to see firsthand how skills learned in school are applied in careers.
We are always looking for ways to equitably expand work-based learning opportunities for youth and JFF’s thoughtful market review offers insights as to how to do this. If you have children or work with youth, please review JFF’s report to expand your own knowledge of work-based learning.