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Work-Based Learning

What is Work-Based Learning? 

Work-based learning (WBL) is defined by the Iowa Department of Education as a progression through career awareness, exploration, preparation and training to support student learning for future success. By incorporating WBL opportunities for students, an organization will be able to create awareness for the variety of careers offered, showcase their work environment, establish relationships with future talent and keep those connections for future hiring.  

Why participate in Work-Based Learning? 

Work-based learning is a win-win-win strategy for students, employers and the community.  

Students gain: 

  • career path/advancement direction and clarity  
  • professional and technical skills in desired career path 
  • social capital with valuable connections in their career field 
  • stronger connection to community 

Employers gain: 

  • home-grown talent to fulfill current workforce needs 
  • valuable connections for future talent needs to build a strong talent pipeline 
  • younger generation perspective 
  • word-of-mouth marketing with local schools 
  • instructor oversight to keep student focused 

Community gains:  

  • a skilled and experienced young talent pool 
  • a more connected and engaged community across all generations 

Take the Next Step 

Identify a team at your organization to take the Work-Based Learning Company Self-Assessment Tool together and identify actionable items of how to move forward.  

This Tool was designed to help businesses and organizations determine the current reality of your WBL efforts and identify gaps and opportunities to lean into and improve on. Sustainable WBL is achieved through three key areas: WBL continuum diversification, education partnerships and staff support, and high-quality and accessible WBL experiences for all. 

Download (link) and complete the Self-Assessment to identify areas for improvement to strengthen early talent career pathways. Then, create an action plan for successful implementation. 

Contact Lexi Shafer, Director of Workforce, for more information.

High School WBL Programs 

Click to view Iowa high school student WBL programs in public school districts. 

Looking to connect with a WBL Coordinator in the region? Contact Lexi Shafer, Director of Workforce at lshafer@DSMpartnership.com