Work-Based Courses

Getting Started

The Next Generation of Work-Based Learning

Work-based courses are an innovative way to bring college to the production line by using the job as a learning lab.


Students gain opportunities for career and educational advancement while working. Their training helps them perform immediately on the job, while also obtaining college credit and knowledge that can be transferred throughout the industry.


Employers faced with training and retaining a skilled workforce can provide workers rigorous academic training in a format tailored to their production processes and skill needs.

Community Colleges

Community colleges meet the needs of employers while maximizing value to students and maintaining academic standards. Work-based courses also encourage new students to consider community college and complete certificate and degree programs.

More about Work-Based Courses

Six steps to implementation


Assess Your Interest: Consider work-based courses in the broader context of work-based learning, degree programs, and career pathways to help determine if the model meets a need at your college.


Build a Team and Institutional Support: Start planning for work-based courses by designing your team, building faculty support, partnering with employers, and marketing the program to students.


Design Course and Curricula: Translate an existing technical course into the work-based format by developing course competencies, instructional design framework, and assessment process.


Train Supervisors and Mentors: Prepare employer supervisors for their critical role in course instruction with training led by college faculty.


Deliver the Work-Based Course: Faculty and supervisors co-teach work-based courses using a variety of strategies for teaching in the workplace and bringing insight to the classroom about how lessons are applied in a manufacturing plant.


Connect Students to College: Ensure that work-based courses are an effective gateway to community college by drawing on resources that can enable the success of incumbent workers at school.

"Are you ever ready to totally transform the way that you do business?"
–Cindy Fiorella, Vice President, Workforce Solutions, Owensboro Community and Technical College

Work-Based Courses in the Field

With support from the National Science Foundation, Jobs for the Future has researched and pioneered the work-based course model through the Jobs to Manufacturing Careers Initiative. Owensboro Community and Technical College in Kentucky piloted and refined the new approach to manufacturing education. WGBH produced the series of videos in the multimedia toolkit for community colleges interested in adopting the work-based course model.

This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1304249. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.