Work-Based Learning

Expand high-quality work-based learning opportunities for students. When designed well, work-based learning provides employers with a platform to prepare new sources of talent for work while informing and influencing program curricula. Students benefit by gaining exposure to industries and fields, while building marketable skills and accumulating credits toward credential completion.

Recommendation 6

Work-Based Learning

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In an era in which three out of every four students are already working their way through college, internships, co-ops, and apprenticeships all present students with opportunities to earn income in their desired career fields, rather than toiling away in dead-end jobs that do not necessarily accommodate class schedules and school responsibilities. Employers that offer work-based learning opportunities also benefit because the trainees develop skills that make them good candidates for permanent jobs.


JFF recommends four key policy approaches for expanding access to high-quality work-based learning experiences. We believe a good place to start is by launching a statewide initiative to promote work-based learning opportunities, set quality standards, and match interested students and employers. States should also consider providing employers with tax incentives and wage subsidies for employing and training students. Moreover, as interest in apprenticeships grows, we call on states to partner with community colleges to expand opportunities for apprentices to earn college credit for on-the-job training and to develop apprenticeship programs in a wider array of fields, like manufacturing, health care, and IT. Finally, states should reimagine the work-study model by investing in approaches that connect aid-eligible students with career-oriented job placements on and off campus. Doing so would stretch state funding for financial aid further because employers would cover portions of students’ financial aid packages by paying wages to students.