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Work-Based Learning

Quality work-based learning programs benefit the students, employers, schools, and the community.

Students benefit from work-based learning through:

  • application of classroom learning (both academic and technical) in real-world setting
  • establishment of a clear connection between school and work
  • assessment of their interests, aptitudes and abilities while learning about the career possibilities available to them
  • improvement of their postgraduation employment opportunities
  • development and practice of positive work-related habits and attitudes including the ability to think critically, solve problems, work in teams, and resolve issues
  • assessment and understanding of the expectations of the workplace
  • establishment of professional contacts for future employment
  • expansion and refinement of their technical skills
  • participation in authentic, job-related tasks
  • observation of the demeanor and procedures of workplace professionals
  • increased motivation/appreciation for staying in school
  • awareness of postsecondary education opportunities

Employers benefit from work-based learning through:

  • a pool of skilled and motivated potential future employees
  • improved employee retention
  • reduced training/recruitment costs
  • developmental opportunities for a current workforce
  • development of new projects with student assistance
  • involvement in the curriculum development process
  • an opportunity to provide community service

Schools benefit from work-based learning through:

  • expanding the curriculum and learning facilities
  • exposing students to state-of-the-art equipment, technology, and techniques
  • meeting the needs of diverse student populations
  • individualizing instruction for students
  • promoting and fostering faculty interaction with the business community
  • enhancing faculty/staff development efforts
  • making education more relevant and valuable to students
  • increasing student retention rates in schools
  • reducing overcrowding by utilizing off-campus learning sites
  • providing an alternative to building additional classrooms and laboratories to accommodate growth

The community benefits from work-based learning through:

  • creating an environment of collaboration and cooperation among the school, the employers, and the community
  • encouraging respect, tolerance, and understanding among different groups
  • contributing to building a more productive local economy
  • fostering confidence in the school system as practical and beneficial results are observed

Work-Based Learning Opportunities

All career and technical education courses in North Carolina offer work-based learning opportunities for students. Course recommendations for work-based learning opportunities are highlighted at the bottom of each of the course descriptions.

  • Apprenticeship: a system of skilled occupational training that combines practical work experiences with related academic and technical instruction.
  • Business and Industry Field Trip: a short-term visit to a business or agency expands the learning opportunities for participating students.
  • Cooperative Education: a method of instruction where technical classroom instruction is combined with paid employment that is directly related to the classroom instruction.
  • Entrepreneurial Experiences: involves students developing knowledge and proficiency in running a business. Students gains work-place skills and develops and understanding of how to manage a business and is responsible for all risks.
  • Internship: a work-based learning experience where a student participates in the daily operations of a work site under the direct supervision of a business mentor.
  • Job Shadow: a short-term (usually a half day) educational experience that introduces a student to a particular job or career by pairing the student with an employee of a business, industry, or agency.
  • Mentorship: involves pairing a student (mentee or protégé) with a community professional (mentor) in a one-to-one relationship with the intent of providing first-hand experience in a career field/cluster of the student’s choice. 
  • School Based Enterprise: a simulated or actual business conducted by a school that creates a student learning experience that creates direct links between the classroom learning and the world of work. 
  • Service Learning: a work-based learning strategy that combines community service with career and technical learning goals. Students provide volunteer service to public and non-profit agencies, as well as to civic, charitable, and governmental organizations in the local community.