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Benefits of Work-Based Learning

May 1, 2020

At A Glance

Work-based learning solves a problem that many jobseekers face: It’s hard to get a job without previous work experience, and it’s hard to get work experience without a job.

Why Work-Based Learning?

Work-based learning solves a problem that many jobseekers face: It’s hard to get a job without previous work experience, and it’s hard to get work experience without a job.

In work-based learning programs, young people and adults alike can get the experience employers are seeking and gain the skills and credentials they need to enter and succeed in careers. Workplace learning experiences are beneficial for all students but can be especially useful for low-income students, people who have jobs but lack the skills necessary for better-paying positions, and opportunity youth who may otherwise not have access to the educational opportunities, professional networks, and social capital that often play a critical role in career success.

Likewise, work-based learning helps employers gain access to job candidates who have the hands-on experience they’re seeking. Traditional classroom-based educations and many third-party job training programs don’t usually offer instruction tailored to the specific needs of individual employers. But when employers work with schools or other partners to design work-based learning programs, they can ensure that the curriculum and on-the-job activities cover the skills that workers need to succeed in crucial roles at their organizations.

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Benefits to Students and Workers

  • Gain exposure to the world of work. Participants in work-based learning programs develop skills that employers value but may be difficult to acquire in classroom settings. These include not only technical skills but also professional skills, such as the ability to work as a member of a team, an awareness of the need to be proactive, and an understanding of workplace expectations.
  • Get firsthand involvement in specific occupations or industries. Work-based learning gives people an opportunity to immerse themselves in a particular field and interact with professionals who have worked in it for years. This type of experience can help people make decisions about their long-term career goals.
  • Gain experience that reinforces academic instruction. In work-based learning programs, participants can apply the lessons they learn in the classroom to real-world situations. As a result, they are more likely to master and retain the material, and they are able to demonstrate their new skills in a concrete way.
  • Get a paying job that may become permanent. In some work-based learning programs, such as apprenticeships, participants work in paid jobs that last for the duration of the program and may even lead to full-time positions at the organization. But whether or not they result in permanent employment, all work-based learning experiences yield long-term career benefits because participants acquire skills that they can add to their resumes.
Learn more about why businesses should consider work-based learning
The Business Case for WBL

Benefits to Businesses and Employers

  • Develop more robust talent pipelines. By participating in work-based learning programs, businesses can embrace “grow your own” talent development strategies by giving their current employees opportunities to develop the skills that are needed for difficult-to-fill positions. As partners in these initiatives, businesses can ensure that the skills and qualifications trainees acquire are aligned with their specific workforce needs. And programs such as internships, in which students and other trainees receive temporary job assignments with participating employers, can give businesses an opportunity to train and observe potential employees before committing to hiring them.
  • Access a diverse and innovative labor pool. Companies with diverse workforces are stronger and more competitive than others because their teams are made up of individuals who bring a range of perspectives and innovative ideas that can help them keep pace with a rapidly evolving marketplace. Work-based learning programs can help cultivate diversity in the talent pipeline by providing the structure, support, and training that people of many different backgrounds need to succeed.
  • Earn a reputation for being a great place to work. Many organizations find that their staff turnover rates decline when they launch work-based learning programs. That’s because employees see these opportunities as investments in their future and are more likely to stay loyal to businesses that offer them. Jobseekers also see work-based learning as a plus when they’re evaluating potential employers.
  • Boost their business prospects. Work-based learning programs strengthen the local business climate and foster economic growth by contributing to the creation of a skilled regional workforce. Providing workers with opportunities to earn valuable credentials and develop new skills benefits everyone in the community by reducing unemployment, increasing consumer spending, and attracting new businesses to the area. In turn, that type of robust economic growth benefits the businesses that offer work-based learning programs.

Getting Started with Work-Based Learning


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