Work-based learning, which is a sequenced and coordinated set of activities through which students gain increasing exposure to the world of work, is a core component of the Pathways to Prosperity framework. Work-based learning addresses a shared goal of educators and employers: preparing students with the knowledge and skills, including both technical and 21st-century skills, needed for productive careers. In addition, students who participate in work-based learning deepen their understanding of both specific career options and of the world of work. The resources on this page are intended to support leaders who are implementing and scaling up work-based learning in states and regions across the Pathways to Prosperity Network.
Pathways to Prosperity Publications
This brief is intended to allay concerns about perceived barriers to young people’s access to workplaces and to highlight the successes of employers who have opened their doors to high school students. The brief profiles employers within the Pathways to Prosperity Network who have found ways to provide young people with meaningful work experiences. These case studies highlight the ways that these employers have managed the logistics of work-based learning and explain the benefits of doing so for employers.
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This brief provides answers to most frequently asked questions about the logistics of access to workplaces for students under the age of 18. The answers to the questions in this brief are intended to clarify misconceptions and to serve as a starting point for employers that are considering offering internships to high school students.
Additional Publications and Resources
These are resources published by the U.S. Department of Labor and OSHA, including useful fact sheets and summaries of the laws affecting youth employment. Keep in mind that in addition to the web-based resources below, both the Department of Labor and OSHA have staff members available via email or phone who can answer any questions or clarify how policies apply in the case of a particular workplace.
- YouthRules! Employers’ Pocket Guide on Youth Employment: This guide lists relevant federal laws pertaining to age restrictions and hazardous occupations, and provides examples of best practices to ensure safety of minors in the workplace.
- YouthRules! website: This Department of Labor site provides resources geared toward youth audiences about their rights as young workers and what jobs employers can and cannot ask them to perform. Resources are tailored to students’ ages and the industries in which they are working.
- Frequently Asked Questions about Youth Employment on the YouthRules! website
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration Act of 1970
- Fact Sheet on Youth Minimum Wage laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act
- U.S. Department of Labor, Youth & Labor, Hazardous Jobs information
- State-specific age restrictions under the Wage and Hour Division on the U.S. Department of Labor website
- Elaws advisors: This Department of Labor resource walks users through a set of interactive questions and tailors information based on responses. For instance, if a user visits the elaws advisor on the Fair Labor Standards Act, Child Labor Laws, they can select if they are an “employer,” “parent,” or “student,” or choose a topic like “wages for youth.”
State-level agencies produce toolkits, guidebooks, and other reference materials about youth employment that are useful to employers. Your state is likely to have materials that highlight state-specific provisions related to the FSLA and other resources to support employers’ efforts to offer work-based learning opportunities to youth.
- State of Maine’s laws governing the employment of minors: This website provides helpful information ranging from the history of child labor laws to specific requirements of employers.
- South Dakota Youth Internship program: This framework includes a compelling rationale for hiring young people, useful guiding questions for program implementation, internship standards, evaluation templates, and a good overview on liability risks.
- Massachusetts Guide for Working Teens
- Michigan Employer Internship Toolkit: This toolkit is especially comprehensive and includes definitions of various types of work-based learning, sample interview scripts, internship job descriptions, and offer letters.
Resources from the Field
Below are resources from national leaders in structuring and implementing work-based learning programs and experiences for youth.
- Jobs for the Future’s Guide to Becoming a 9-14 Pathways Employer: This guide provides information about 9-14 pathways models and detailed ideas and examples for structuring work-based learning.
- Making Youth Employment Work: Essential Elements for a Successful Strategy: This paper by Susan Wolf Ditkoff, Willa Seldon, and Diann Daniel for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation provides a great deal of useful information, including an explanation of the benefits of work-based learning for employers and case studies and examples from the field.
- The National Academy Foundation Guide to Work-Based Learning: A Continuum of Activities and Experience
- Boston Private Industry Council Employer Best Practices Booklet
- Change the Equation Work-Based Learning: An Employer’s Guide: This guide is geared toward STEM professionals and employers in STEM fields hoping to enhance young people’s knowledge and application of STEM skills in the workplace.
- Work-Based Learning Opportunities for High School Students: This report from the National Center on Career and Technical Education provides recommendations and best practices for work-based learning based on findings from a year- long study of a technical assistance plan carried out by FHI 360.
- CareerSafe: This organization provides interactive online safety training resources for young workers in such topics as OSHA 10-Hour General Industry Training certification.
- MatchBridge Business Pathways Internship Manager Manual. This manual outlines the role and responsibility as a manager at a host site for the Business Pathways internship program, including processes for approving timesheets, assigning intern tasks, and tips for supervision.
- MatchBridge Business Pathways Internship Intern Manual. This manual outlines requirements and expectations of interns participating in the the Business Pathways internship program, inlcuding guidance on writing emails, interacting with colleagues, and building a professional network.
The documents in this section are drawn from work-based learning sites across the country. They are intended to serve as examples upon which employers and intermediaries can draw as they develop similar materials.
Work-based learning application forms
- Application for students in the Carroll County Schools in Georgia, which outlines the responsibilities of students and parents and addresses topics that include insurance and liability.
- Application for a summer internship program at Stanford’s Cardiothoracic Surgical Skills and Education Center. The packet includes a liability waiver, parent consent form, medical form, and student code of conduct.
- Application for San Francisco's Mayor's Youth Employment and Education Program (MYEEP). The application includes a checklist of requirements for students to be eligible for paid summer employment opportunties.
- Application for new employer mentors of San Francisco's YouthWorks Summer Internship program. This application includes questions for new employers to answer including why they are interested in becoming a mentor, their previous experience working with youth, and information about the types of tasks interns are likely to perform.
- Application for returning employer mentors of San Francisco's YouthWorks Summer Internship program. This is a shorter version of the application for new employer mentors that asks returning mentors to provide updated information about the types of intern tasks and opportunities for career exploration the host site will provide.
Release forms. liability waivers, and agreements
- Liability waiver used by Nclear in Carroll County, GA
- List of approved tasks for students in the Tanner Connections program in Carroll County, GA
- List of eligibility requirements for student participation in BJC HealthCare programs in St. Louis, MO
- Permission to work form for minors that includes a checklist of requirements for youth employment from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
- Media release form from Castle View High School in Castle Rock, CO
- Student transportation insurance form from Castle View High School in Castle Rock, CO
- Internship Agreement from MatchBridge Business Pathways Internship program of the United Way of the Bay Area, CA
- Employer MOU for MatchBridge Business Pathways Internship program of the United Way of the Bay Area, CA
- Employer MOU for Jewish Vocational Service School Partner Program in San Francisco, CA
- Employer MOU for the Mayor's Youth Employment and Education Program (MYEEP) in San Francisco, CA
- Confidentiality agreement for Tanner Connections in Carroll County, GA
- Confidentiality agreement from Castle View High School in Castle Rock, CO
Student orientation materials
- Orientation schedule and checklist for the Tanner Connections program in Carroll County, GA