Educator Guide to Work-Based Learning
Why Work-Based Learning Matters
Work-based learning has value for students at every age and stage — and can help make education more effective and equitable for all. Whether you're an educator at a K-12 or post-secondary institution, providing basic education to adults or doing career counseling at a community-based organization, work-based learning can help you provide:
- Opportunities to earn income and document learning towards credentials
- An alternative path for individuals who are hands-on learners
- Support for using previous learning as credit toward credentials (See C-Plan)
- A way to engage students/clients in both work and learning as they build foundational knowledge and skills towards future goals
- Meaningful support to learners at every level of need
The benefits and activities of work-based learning through Minnesota State have been developed in partnership with the National Governors Association (NGA), Minnesota's Departments of Labor and Industry, Education, Employment and Economic Development, along with other education partners.
Our efforts are aligned with Minnesota's P-20 Education Partnership and the Governor's Workforce Development Boards to connect education and industry needs.
The goal of this partnership has been to create a framework for the development and evaluation of credentials that would not only provide effective and equitable education to the diverse pool of learners we're actively working to recruit — but would also be recognized across agencies and educational providers.
Making a measurable difference
The partnership is committed to increasing the proportion of Minnesotans aged 25-44 who have attained a postsecondary certificate, diploma, or degree to 70 percent by 2025, within each racial/ethnic group.
This focus on disaggregated attainment rates is significant and somewhat unique and is critically important to the citizens of Minnesota as our state continues to have the largest gaps in educational outcomes in the country.
Understanding how work-based learning is defined
One of the challenges in designing an interoperable framework was accommodating the differences in how various government agencies and community organizations defined work-based learning. Here's a brief overview of the differences:
- Over 40 hours
- Formalized learning with instruction occurring at the school and at a community-based setting with an employer
- Involves a licensed teacher with a work-based learning coordinator endorsement
- For general education and special education students
Perkins Defined Work-Based Learning
Sustained interactions with industry or community professionals to foster in-depth- first hand engagement with the task required in a given career field. Such interactions occur either in real workplace settings or in simulated educational environments and are aligned to curriculum and instruction.
Employment-Based Training (Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry)
An earn and learn model that pairs on-the-job training with some type of formal education (related instruction).
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)-Defined Work-Based Learning
Work-based learning must be under actual working conditions and must be designed to enhance the employability, responsibility, and confidence of the learners. Work-based learning usually occurs in tandem with other career and technical training.
- Credit for Prior Learning Test Out
- Credit for Prior Learning Crosswalks
- Articulation Agreements
- Dual Instruction Models
Here are the four models for work-based learning currently supported for and by employers in Minnesota:
- Learning About Work
In this model, employers serve as guest speakers or presenters in classrooms or at career fairs and/or events. Employers interested in greater involvement may also host students on tours or even provide opportunities for job shadowing. These are usually brief interactions but can be highly effective in expanding knowledge and understanding of your industry and job opportunities. It's a great way to get students interested in future employment in your industry.
- Learning Reflects Work
Schools and colleges depend on employers who can commit to providing projects, research, and shorter-term opportunities that allow learners to experience work. In this model, employers who provide those opportunities often serve as part of the learning assessment process – which includes sharing standards of professionalism and work product expectations. You or another volunteer from your organization may also be asked to provide direct feedback to learners or serve as judges for competitions.
- Learning Through Work
Employers can play a key role in helping learners develop an understanding of work culture and expectations. The Learning Through Work model gives students the opportunity to apply skills and knowledge learned in the classroom as they participate in critical roles that develop them for their job or career. Learners ideally experience everything from being part of a work team, planning for work and productivity, managing time and problem-solving, to applying creativity within a work setting, and more.
While this model often requires a significant investment of time and resources from employers — it also provides significant benefits, including informed recruiting for permanent positions and productivity from the highly motivated individuals currently learning through work.
To ensure equitable access to opportunities, it is HIGHLY recommended that Learning through Work be paid opportunities, including internships, pre-apprenticeships, and other apprentice-type experiences.
- Earn and Learn
In this model, employers plan and direct the learning experience – while schools, colleges, and other training providers play a support role. By their nature, these are paid learning experiences where learners serve as productive workers while they gain skills and specialization. Employers should also provide training “on the job” to support employee performance and reinforce classroom or laboratory learning.”
Employers generally take the lead in determining the topics or skills areas for instruction. Documentation of learning is key to the learn and earn experience because it ensures employees that they'll receive future credentials and industry certifications.
Whether you are looking for training for your workforce, help connecting to industry experts, or any other need, our trained support staff is available to answer your questions and connect you with resources.
Live chat, email questions, or call us to connect to solutions for your workforce. We look forward to assisting you!
MN Relay: 800-627-3529