Monday, October 19, 2015

Work-Based Learning Continuum: Can You Locate Your Program?

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
We know that, as adults, it is our job to help prepare young people for success in adulthood. This is becoming obvious to educators and those who provide expanded learning programs for youth as we see an increase in opportunities to explore careers and gather work-based skills. 

The Linked Learning Alliance has created a continuum of work-based learning activities. This continuum offers educators and youth program leaders  shared language and activity definitions as a means to locate oneself on this developmental continuum. You can review a paper on this continuum authored by the Linked Learning Alliance here. (The Linked Learning Alliance is a statewide coalition of education, industry, and community organizations dedicated to improving California’s high schools and preparing students for success in college, career, and life.)

Above: Alex Taghavian
Below: Regie Stites
Alex Taghavian, Vice President of the Linked Learning Alliance, will speak at our upcoming How Kids Learn V conference. The focus of this conference is Preparing Youth for Work and Career Success. Alex will share the work-based learning continuum and researcher, Regie Stites from Center for Education Policy at SRI International, will focus on some of the challenges and opportunities for implementation of work-based learning systems based on his findings from the Linked Learning District Initiative evaluation. He will also highlight some of the evidence he has for positive outcomes from work-based learning.

Below we asked Hilary McLean, Executive Vice President of the Linked Learning Alliance, more about the Linked Learning work-based continuum. 

Q: Can you briefly say how and why this continuum was developed? 

Hilary McLean,
Executive Vice President
Linked Learning
A: The Linked Learning Work-Based Learning continuum was developed by leaders in the Linked Learning field who have expertise in education and workforce development. It was designed to be a resource to help build understanding about the range of work-based learning opportunities that a student could and should experience as they move through their Linked Learning experience. With that greater understanding, we hoped that this resource would help schools and employer partners design coherent sequenced opportunities for students to interact with employers, apply what they are learning in the classroom in real-world contexts, and gain professional skills that are needed in college and in the workforce. 

Q: This continuum uses the term “work-based”. People often think about "work-based” learning activities that only happen within a work setting and with older youth and young adults. Can you comment on this perception?  

A: Work-based learning can actually start much earlier, by introducing children in primary grades or even preschool to careers and professionals in a range of occupations.  With Linked Learning, the career awareness phase of the continuum typically starts in the students’ freshman year of high school. Some districts that have embraced Linked Learning as a system-wide school improvement strategy start this phase in middle school. 

Q: Who is the intended audience for this continuum and how do you hope it will be used?  

A: We hope that the Linked Learning Work-Based Learning Continuum is used by Linked Learning educators, workforce development boards, intermediaries such as Chambers of Commerce or other organizations that are serving as a connection point between schools and the employer community, coordinators for mayors’ summer jobs initiatives, and anyone who is interested in economic development and improving the workforce pipeline.

Q: Do you believe that it is useful and relevant for youth programs that happen in the out-of-school hours? 

A: Yes we think that this is a huge area of opportunity that has not yet been fully tapped. 

Q: What benefits do you believe this continuum provides to program
Photo Credit: Techbridge Girls
designers and youth workers?  

A: The Linked Learning Work-Based Learning Continuum can provide guidance on how to sequence opportunities for youth so that they are prepared for each step in the process, and can succeed in both learning in and contributing to real-world professional workplaces. 


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