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Work-Based Learning


Work-Based Learning is an applied learning strategy to support students to be college and career ready. The major function of work-based learning is to expose students to future options while providing opportunities for skill development and mastery over time. All work-based learning experiences involve interactions with business and industry or community professionals intentionally designed to help students expand and strengthen their applied learning. Not all work-based learning is done in a "work" setting; in the community or at a school, it can be supported virtually via technology, or take place across a combination of all these settings.

Work-based learning can span from Pre-K into adulthood and encompasses the following areas:

  • Career Awareness/Learning ABOUT Work - Build awareness of the variety of careers available and the role of postsecondary education; broaden student options.
  • Career Exploration/Learning ABOUT Work - Explore career options and postsecondary for the purpose of motivating students and to inform their decision making in high school and postsecondary education.
  • Career Preparation/Learning THROUGH Work - Apply learning through practical experience that develops knowledge and skills necessary for success in careers and postsecondary education.
  • Career Training/Learning FOR Work - Train for employment and/or postsecondary education in a specific range of occupations.

(Bulleted list based on "Work-Based Learning Continuum," California Center for College and Career, "ConnectEd Solutions Linked Learning in Action," September 20, 2016.)

However, each of these strategies has varying levels of depth, connectivity to the classroom, and student outcomes; therefore, not every strategy is considered work-based learning.

Work-Based Learning - Preparation & Training

Work-based learning (WBL) is a proactive approach to bridging the gap between high school and high-demand, high-skill, and high-wage careers in Oregon. Students build on classroom-based instruction to develop employability skills that prepare them for success in postsecondary education and future careers. Through experiences like internships, apprenticeships, and paid work experience, juniors and seniors (16 years or older) may apply their classroom knowledge and workplace ethics and skills through hands-on training. These opportunities afford students to earn dual credit, develop their employability and technical skills, potentially earn a wage, and shape their postsecondary path upon completion of a secondary program. These options include, but are not limited to, pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs, clinical practicums, cooperative work experiences, employment, internships, and on-the-job training.

Listed below are resources to connect with best practices, program toolkits, and state policies.

For further information, please contact Gabby Sloss or Art Witkowski.

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