Building a workforce training accelerator
Accelerators should offer participants’ skills-based training in combination with applied learning. The minimum amount of time should be used in the classroom to create a level of safe mastery of the skill that is required to apply the skill. Safe mastery means physical safety, but also emotional maturity, so that the participant does not feel overwhelmed by the skill required or task presented. Accelerators can and should be thought of as stackable. Skills sets should be seen as separate (compartmental) and combined (systemic). Accelerators require a skillful design so that both participants and employers find a beneficial pathway together.
Seven Key Principles for Effective Work-based Learning Models:
Jobs for the Future (JFF) has identified seven key principles for effective work-based learning models to ensure that work-based learning can fulfill its promise as a critical component of career pathways strategies designed to bolster education and employment outcomes. The overall goal of these principles is to strengthen the talent pipeline by increasing the number of individuals who successfully access and complete work-based learning experiences, acquire skills and knowledge valued by employers, and enter and advance in careers.
Support entry and advancement in a career track.
Effective models of work- based learning provide participants with opportunities to build knowledge, develop skills, and advance in specific career paths. Work-based learning supports the development of both industry-specific technical skills and professional skills, such as communications, teamwork, and problem solving, valued by nearly all employers.
~ Skills can be learned quickly in a safe teaching environment
~ Participants can be tracked in both career and education opportunities
~ Direct partnership with labor.
~ Use data and stats to support known needs in your geographic area.
~ Seek and include wrap around services that serve each student.
~ Use assessments to judge skill levels and track students into successful training and employment opportunities that match their current skill-sets.
Provide meaningful jobs tasks that build career skills and knowledge.
Provide real-world classroom experiences that look and reflect employer need. Participants in work-based learning must have opportunities to engage in appropriately complex and relevant tasks aligned with participants’ career goals. Work-based learning should include mentoring and supervision, and should continue over a sustained period of time to allow participants adequate opportunities to perform meaningful job tasks.
~ Classroom and internship opportunities require meaningful mentorship that continues beyond classroom and job experience required commitments.
~ Networking is essential and mentors must provide access into"their world" and not fear the success of their mentee.
Compensating work-based learning participants honors individuals’ contributions and helps them remain focused and motivated. If work-based learning programs do not offer compensation, many individuals will be unable to participate in career-advancing opportunities because they need paid employment.
~ Work with labor and community organizations to provide stipends for training and classroom hours.
~ Stipends should match geographic area minimum wage or entry level wages that participants may expect to make.
~ Agreement must be made between participant and program coordinator of what 100% completion to wage compensation entails.
Identify target skills and how gains will be validated. Understanding of the skills to be attained increases its value to both students and employers. Effective approaches to validating skills include reflective practices that lead to continuous learning and ensure integration with learning goals, as well as formal assessments through which participants can demonstrate job competencies.
~ Create employer, labor, educator committees that work together to advise and lead efforts for positive experiences for participants.
~ Create Individual Employment Program (IEP) for each participant that tailors their personal and professional requirements.
~ Create a valuable alumni network. Cultivate a pay-it-forward mentality so that participants become mentors.
Reward skill development.
Effective work-based learning models reinforce learning by rewarding skills development through mechanisms such as increased wages and benefits, high school or postsecondary credit, opportunities to transition to permanent employment, and promotions for incumbent workers.
~ Every classroom session provides a graduation experience
~ Accomplishments are share publicly
~ Provide an opportunity for all voices to be heard
~ Provide pathways to industry, academic, and other goals required by both academic and labor organizations.
~ Showcase and value the programs offered by labor and educational partners. Introduce these programs to employers and make them aware of their benefit to the community.
Support college entry, persistence, and completion.
Work-based learning should link to secondary and postsecondary programs of study. The fact that work-based learning often provides postsecondary credentials, coupled with its role in reinforcing classroom learning and its potential to provide students with needed financial support, also supports persistence and completion.
~ Use the IEP to match participant to a pathway that includes goals that are realistic.
~ Promote GED, literacy and other basic skill sets that might prohibit participant mobility post-program completion.
Provide comprehensive student supports.
Effective work-based learning incorporates career navigation structures such as advising or coaching that equip students with the information they need to make informed choices about their careers. In addition, support for situations that challenge students’ progress must be implemented
(i.e. childcare for an in-school parent).
~ Utilize resources in the community.
~ Network constantly to find new programs and find organizations and individuals that can help participants
Utilize wrap-around services and help create ones that do not exist.
Check out work-based learning resources that can help you integrate these quality designs into your programs.