Why Work-Based Learning Is A Win-Win-Win: The Student 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.

In the United States right now, an estimated 6.5 million jobs are unfilled. This is in part because there aren’t enough qualified applicants to fill them. Many states have recognized that work-based learning experiences, like internships, job shadows, and career fairs are key for preparing the next generation of the workforce and closing this gap.

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 schools and local businesses partner to unlock these opportunities, it becomes a win-win-win for students, educators, and employers alike. Below, we’ll focus on the many ways work-based learning benefits students.

Career readiness is critical to postsecondary success. Access to work-based learning opportunities allows students to enhance their career research and planning, better positioning them for success in the workforce and paving the way for them to meet their future professional goals. By giving students real-world experience in a field they’re interested in, work-based learning helps students determine if their interests will lead to a good career fit.

For Tamir Harper, now a student at American University, a hospital internship during high school allowed him to discover that his preference was not to become a doctor. “Internships are powerful, and they helped me know that a career in education was my life’s direction and not medicine,” he says. “But I was only able to do that through mentorship and work-based learning.”

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.

“Embedding work-based learning into the K-12 curriculum for all students addresses equity challenges and gives all young people access to the experiences and social networks necessary to propel their early career outcomes,” says Lateefah Durant, who helped build and lead college and career readiness efforts in Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland and is now vice president of CityWorks DC.

At Naviance, we believe strongly that all students should have access to opportunities that will help them achieve postsecondary success. This is why we’ve designed a toolkit that 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 framework includes a work-based learning feature that allows students to search and apply for interesting internships, job shadows, career fairs, and more — and helps ensure that they never miss a work-based learning opportunity again.

Please complete the form to access the toolkit.

Topics Work-Based Learning

College & Career Readiness

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