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Busting the Myths to Get at the Big Benefits of Work-Based Learning Programs
Busting the Myths to Get at the Big Benefits of Work-Based Learning Programs
Gojob Blog

Busting the Myths to Get at the Big Benefits of Work-Based Learning Programs

As employers continue to face labor shortages, many are looking to alternative sources of labor—whether for full-time or temporary positions. One of these sources, while not new, is definitely gaining traction in this tight hiring environment—work-based learning (WBL) programs.

What Are Work-Based Learning Programs?

WBL programs provide opportunities for employees, and potential employees, to learn while on the job without any commitment on their, or the employer’s part, that they will stay on long-term.

These programs primarily service students, offering hands-on experience in a wide range of jobs, many in the trades. They provide a combination of both education but experience—the kind of experience that benefits both students/future employees and employers. Students learn about what their potential future career might be like which getting an actual feel for the work involved. Employers have the opportunity to both coach and mentor youth, and to potentially spot talent that they could bring on board to meet their companies’ needs.

Types of Opportunities Available

WBL programs run the gamut from traditional (e.g., construction, welding) to newly emerging roles available through the expansion of technology—“from EVs to solar infrastructure,” according to Trades Nation. This offers an opportunity to learn about new market trends while also being involved in actually implementing those trends on the job.

WBL is an idea that has continued to gain traction during the pandemic. American Student Assistance (ASA) recently conducted a nationwide audit of states’ approaches to WBL, publishing their findings in a guide—High School Work-based Learning: Best Practices Designed to Improve Career Readiness Outcomes for Today’s Youth—which also includes a state-by-state analysis.

Like many states around the country, Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee each have WBL programs that help to connect high school students with employers needing talent for high-demand, and high-skill careers.

Kentucky’s Bus to Business® offer students “the opportunity to tour businesses, complete hands-on work-based learning activities, and speak directly with employers and industry leaders about career pathways available in their organization.”

These programs have far-reaching impact. Georgia, for instance, has 9000 employers participating in its program and served 26,948 students in 2020. Some states, like North Carolina, are committing funds from the U.S. government’s $40 billion American Rescue Plan to strengthen their WBL offerings.

Still, the programs are sometimes fraught with some myths and misconceptions. Here we take a look at a few of these and why they shouldn’t hold employers back from exploring WBL opportunities.

Debunking the Myths of Work-Based Learning Programs

Most would likely agree that the idea of providing high school students with the skills and connections they need to land jobs while still in school, or soon after, would hold many benefits. There are, however, some myths around the concept.

Let’s bust a few of these myths:

Myth: Work-based learning programs are only for high school students.

Fact: Work-based learning programs come in a variety of flavors and formats. High-school based programs, of course. But programs are also offered to younger students and in higher education settings, and to broader communities of the labor market—e.g., those who may be hoping to make a job transition, who have lost their jobs, relocated, etc.

As Forbes Technology Council member John Baker writes for Forbes, WBL programs offer “a continuum of opportunities offered either inside or outside the workplace, including everything from traditional clinical placements for healthcare practitioners to corporate internships and hackathons that invite coders to crack a particular industry problem—and a host of others.”

Myth: Work-based learning programs are only for those looking for a job.

Fact: People at all stages of their educational or work careers can benefit from WBL as a way, yes, to learn about career opportunities while still in school, but also to explore reskilling and upskilling opportunities. That’s especially important in today’s rapidly changing jobs market where new technology is continually emerging and raising new demands and the need for ongoing education.

Myth: Work-based learning programs put employers at risk.

Fact: While some employers’ hesitancy around participating in WBL may relate to the potential for increase liability from young people in the workforce and the potential impact on insurance costs, states are helping to address these concerns by establishing “employers of record” that take on the payroll and insurance support of this workforce segment.

GoJob is one example of an employer of record that also provides soft-skills training for employees—including those in WBL programs.

The benefits of WBL programs far outweigh the presumed risks for students and their families, for schools at all levels, for employers, and for the community at large.

GoJob is proud to support the WBL programs in Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Contact us to learn how you could work with GoJob as an employer of record to tap into the growing WBL labor market.