Giving Compass' Take:

• An article at Urban Institute outlines strategies in obtaining the multifaceted benefits of work-based learning for students and employers.

• Why do we have such a difficult time supporting pathways that deviate from the typical route to success? Are you prepared to offer your funding to work-based or experiential learning?

Discover how some schools incorporate experiential learning in younger curriculums.

Work-based learning can help students gain valuable skills and experience, while helping employers access a broader, more qualified workforce.

Although there has been a focus on registered apprenticeships in recent years, colleges also offer internships, cooperative education programs, and other forms of WBL. They also often provide clinicals and practica for fields where they are required for licensure. Some of these strategies are direct onramps to work, and others are about job readiness linked to students’ fields of study.

Colleges are under tremendous pressure to realize a variety of student and employer goals. Expanding WBL requires that states and institutions prioritize WBL by providing the necessary resources and support. That means the need to provide states and colleges with the necessary funding.

Community colleges are included in expansion efforts because they offer options for flexible and occupationally focused workforce preparation. Additionally, community colleges serve diverse populations and can help address inequity in access to and outcomes of WBL.

Effectively engaging employers is critical to making all forms of WBL work. Colleges need to do this to create opportunities for students, ensure that programs are aligned with WBL experiences, and to provide support to employers and students along the way. But effectively engaging employers and understanding their needs is a challenge.

Given the wide variety of WBL models, we need to know more about what works best to support the equitable expansion of WBL and student and worker success.

All stakeholders need better research about what strategies work best for whom, to support students in gaining valuable skills, to help colleges understand the needs of their students, and to give employers access to a qualified, diverse workforce.

Read the full article about improving work-based learning opportunities by Shayne Spaulding, Ian Hecker, and Emily Bramhall at Urban Institute.