Why Work-Based Learning?

High-quality Work-Based Learning (WBL) provides opportunities for the acquisition of academic, technical, and workplace/professional skills among youth engaged in the Learn & Earn program in a Career Pathways approach to education and training. Regardless of industry, employers consistently underscore that new workers must have experience and mastery in all three skill areas, with a growing priority on the development of professional skills. To support youth and young adults in developing these skills, authentic workplace experiences are important when combined with classroom training or workshop activities and other career-readiness activities. Workplace Tours, Guest Speakers, Informational Interviews, Job Shadowing, Work Experience, Internships, Workplace Challenges, and Career Mentoring provide real-world context and the opportunity to experience the workplace and prepare for the future. Different than a train-and-place approach that looks at placement as an outcome, leveraging workplace experiences as part of the developmental process can create powerful learning experiences and program attachments for youth and young adults. Work-Based Learning activities engage the employer or organization as a partner, providing developmental experiences for youth and young adults in the workplace as part of the Career Pathway approach. These experiences augment classroom training or workshops and offer the opportunity to learn about potential careers and to practice and demonstrate professional skills. This toolkit has been developed to address the need to provide a range of opportunities to youth and young adults, and to help Learn & Earn programs and their agency or employer partners deliver educationally rich and authentic Work-Based Learning experiences to youth and young adults in New York City.

Benefits for Youth and Young Adults

Through Work-Based Learning activities, youth engaged in Learn & Earn programs build awareness of potential careers in a particular industry and are able to explore options and start preparing for their future. Work-Based Learning provides opportunities for hands-on learning and the development of relationships with professional adult role models. Participating youth and young adults acquire experience and build professional workplace and occupational skills while learning about the training or education required to succeed in specific careers. They are better able to understand real-world applications of academics and occupational training, and answer the question, “Why do I need to learn this?”

By integrating a range of workplace exposures and experiences with classroom training or workshop activities and guidance over time, youth and young adults will often set their sights higher than an immediate job, and are likely to remain committed to programs though completion of their personal and career-related goals.

Participation in Career Pathways fast tracks youth and young adults to their personal career goals.

Youth and young adults who are pursuing a Career Pathway focus on their long-term goals through training and other career development activities in the context of an industry. It provides an incentive to persist and complete their education and they complete the program with direct experience with partner employers or organizations and a firm foundation for entry into the workforce or future educational and training opportunities.

Career Pathways are an integrated and sequenced collection of programs and services intended to develop youth and young adults’ core academic, technical and employability skills; provide them with continuous education and training leading to an industry recognized credential or degree; and prepare them for and place them in high-demand, high-opportunity jobs and careers.

Benefits for Employers

The Career Pathways approach offers an effective and appropriate vehicle for employers to help build and retain their future workforce. The model is a direct response to the need to better prepare the workforce of the 21st century. Employers report increasing mismatch between the skills required for entry into their industry and those of the emerging workforce. Participation in Career Pathways helps build awareness of the employer’s role in the community and offers a public relations benefit to industry partners. By opening their place of business to youth and young adults engaged in Learn & Earn programs and providing high-value Work-Based Learning opportunities, employers are able to expose the community to their business and industry and benefit from productive work. Employers can observe potential future employees in a “long-term interview” context and participate in shaping their future workforce. Youth and young adults also provide access to a customer resource and point of view. An employer’s existing workforce benefits from more productive and engaged employees and by offering leadership and supervisory skills development opportunities to its current workers. Participation provides an opportunity for companies to support and help develop a highly skilled and productive future workforce.

Benefits for the Learn & Earn Program

A Career Pathways approach promotes better outcomes for youth workforce development programs. It helps organizations deliver 21st century training and educational opportunities and provides career exploration experiences while preparing youth and young adults for real career options and to become contributing members of their community. It expands youth organization awareness of the economy and increases knowledge of area employers and organizations, emerging careers and workforce needs as well as promoting an understanding of the challenges industry faces.

Work-Based Learning activities extend training to the workplace and build awareness of beneficial skills to incorporate in the classroom training or workshop curriculum. It validates curriculum instructional models and provides touchstones in authentic workplaces to help make learning in the classroom or workshop settings relevant. It helps workforce development programs build relationships with the community and provides opportunities for networking to promote future collaboration with employer or organization partners.

Benefits for the Community

Work-Based Learning activities connect the community to training programs and local economic development efforts, promote civic engagement and help address community priorities and issues. Youth and young adults complete community projects and are visible as productive and contributing community members.

New York City Youth and Young Adult Career Pathways