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Work-Based Learning

What is Work-Based Learning?

Stated most simply, the stages of work-based learning can be described as:
  • Learning ABOUT work.
  • Learning THROUGH work.
  • Learning FOR work.
Work-based learning is an instructional strategy that is essential in preparing all students for success in postsecondary education and careers. The primary purposes of work-based learning are to expose students to future options and provide opportunities for skill development and mastery over time. 

All work-based learning experiences involve inperson and virtual interactions with industry or community professionals that are linked to schoolbased instruction. These learning experiences are intentionally designed to help students extend and deepen classroom work and to make progress toward learning outcomes that are difficult to achieve through classroom or standard project-based learning alone. 

The term “work-based” does not mean the experience must occur at a workplace or during the standard “work day.” A continuum of work-based learning experiences stretches from kindergarten into adulthood.

What Does Work-Based Learning Look Like?

Work-based learning experiences can be implemented at all grade levels and can include a variety of activities—from in-classroom visits to workplace tours and even apprenticeship programs. 

Because work-based learning exists on a continuum, employers and schools can choose to participate in whichever activities align their priorities and available time and resources. Explore the table linked here to see which types of experiences your organization or school may be able to provide based on your circumstances.
Student sitting at computer monitor smiling

Contact Us

Contact John Hambrick and Jama Cobb to learn how to start a work-based learning program with your school, business, or community organization.


The ESC has been a partner of the Cardinal Health STEM initiative since 2020, when both organizations engaged with Columbus City Schools (CCS) to create a pilot program focused on increasing middle school students’ exposure to STEM-related careers. Throughout 2020, Cardinal Health mentors joined biweekly 45 minute virtual meetings with four CCS middle schools to share information about their STEM related careers. Learn more.

Who Benefits from Work-Based Learning?


  • Boosts motivation and increases academic engagement and performance 
  • Allows students to see how academic instruction applies to real life 
  • Fosters interpersonal skills 
  • Increases awareness of career paths 
  • Cultivates responsibility and maturity 
  • Eases the transition from school to workforce


  • Builds relationships to businesses and community
  • Gives students access to and facilities training that otherwise may not have been financially attainable
  • Provides another way to meet individual student needs and goals 
  • Keeps educators informed of business and industry trends 
  • Helps graduates be better prepared to transition to work 
  • Ensures curriculum is relevant to current business needs


  • Creates a pool of workers who bring new perspectives, fresh approaches, and motivation for work
  • Reduces future training costs and turnover
  • Provides opportunity to evaluate workers before offering full-time employment 
  • Improves employee morale 
  • Helps graduates be better prepared to transition to workforce 
  • Builds positive relationships and visibility with the community