Why Work-Based Learning Is A Win-Win-Win: The Employer Perspective

This three part blog series explores the key role that work-based learning plays in postsecondary success, and how it benefits students, educators, and employers alike. Read part 1 and part 2.

In the United States right now, an estimated 6.5 million jobs are unfilled. And 61% of employers are facing challenges trying to find skilled workers to fill these positions; indeed, some eight million workers lack the necessary credentials. Many states have recognized that work-based learning experiences, like internships, job shadows, and career fairs, are key to closing this gap, by ensuring that the next generation is better equipped to enter the workforce.

Employers benefit from work-based learning because it results in diverse and robust talent pipelines, and it reduces hiring costs and increases retention through strong student connections.

What is work-based learning? According to Jobs for the Future, it is the completion of “meaningful job tasks in a workplace that develop readiness for work, knowledge, and skills that support entry or advancement in a particular career.” At Naviance we know that students are looking for these opportunities — in a recent poll, 81% of students surveyed stated that they want more access to internships, while 68% want more job shadows, and 66% want more field trips to companies.

When businesses partner with schools to unlock these opportunities, it becomes a win-win-win for employers, educators, and schools alike. Below, we’ll focus on the employer perspective.

A 2020 report by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, called “Workplace Basics: The Competencies Employers Want,” revealed the five most in-demand competencies across the labor market:

  1. Communication
  2. Teamwork
  3. Sales and customer service
  4. Leadership
  5. Problem solving and complex thinking

These competencies may be better learned through work-based learning, rather than in-classroom learning alone.As Nancy Fishman, Co-Global Director of Ready Nation puts it: “Business leaders are united in their concerns regarding their future workforce. Business and industry face a looming gap between available positions and workers with the skills to fill those positions. Partnerships between businesses and education are an important factor in building a strong workforce.”

In responding to the notion of the “Return on Investment” (ROI) for businesses thinking about partnering with schools to provide work- based learning, Sarah Kapellusch, Manager of Business Partnerships and Development at Gateway Technical College (WI) says, “I call it Return on Relationship: business must understand that having youth in their talent pipeline process is a must and will not drop off. Take time to help educate teachers on your needs and they will give back to you a career or college ready individual.”

At Naviance, we know that career readiness is imperative to students’ postsecondary success.

And we believe strongly that all students should have access to opportunities that will help them achieve it. This is why we’ve designed a toolkit that employers and communities can use as a blueprint for implementing work-based learning across schools and districts.

It’s also why our College, Career, and Life Readiness platform includes a work-based learning feature that allows local employers to coordinate with schools to create work-based learning opportunities for students to participate in. Successful work-based learning coordination leverages the expertise of employers, educators, and postsecondary education and training providers to ensure programming connects learning across schools and the community.

When planned and implemented thoughtfully, work-based learning delivers compelling, integrated experiences for students to gain early exposure to career pathways to promote relevant skill development. When provided equitably in a community, work-based learning also provides a bridge to economic self-sufficiency by providing students with a head start on postsecondary programs, including opportunities to earn college credits and industry certifications before graduation.

At Naviance, we are committed to helping your business or organization achieve its work-based learning goals — and helping ultimately fill your employment gaps by better positioning the future workforce for success.

Please complete the form to access the toolkit.

Topics Work-Based Learning

College & Career Readiness

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