Work-Based Learning in the United States: Preparing Secondary-Level Students for Post-Secondary Success

Work-Based Learning in the United States: Preparing Secondary-Level Students for Post-Secondary Success

Soung Bae (Stanford University, USA) and Svetlana Darche (WestEd, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6977-0.ch001

Abstract

In the United States, as in other nations, work-based learning is a key strategy for preparing young people for careers. U.S. secondary schools offer career and technical education (CTE) programs that aim to develop the knowledge, skills, and competencies that young people need to obtain meaningful work. CTE programs support academic attainment and the development of transferable skills, such as teamwork and collaboration skills. New standards also stress “college and career readiness.” However, there is evidence that the U.S. lags behind other developed nations in providing work-based learning experiences that could signal readiness for employment. Thus, introducing young people to the workforce or preparing them for the world of work, before they leave secondary school, is a critical endeavor. In this chapter, the authors highlight exemplary work-based learning models in secondary schools in the United States. The goal of the chapter is to provide rich descriptions of work-based learning models that integrate academics with career preparation, and that thereby provide meaningful and purposeful introductions to working life.
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What Is Work-Based Learning?

Work-based learning can be defined as “an educational strategy that offers students an opportunity to reinforce and deepen their classroom learning, explore future career fields, and demonstrate their skills in an authentic setting” (Advance CTE, 2016, p. 2). Work-based learning provides students with exposure to careers and facilitates the development of technical skills as well as the application of academic knowledge through interactions with industry professionals and involvement in authentic work tasks. The central idea is that students learn through work (European Training Foundation, 2013). As such, work-based learning is viewed as a “powerful means of learning soft and hard skills, of guiding career choice, and negotiating career entry by introducing employers and potential recruits” (OECD, 2010a cited in Kuczera & Field, 2013, p. 28).

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