Work-Based Learning Prepares Students for Future

*This article first appeared in the Times-Republican.

Work-Based Learning Prepares Students for Future

How do students learn what to expect when they move into post secondary education and the workplace? In Marshalltown Schools we are preparing students for these adventures by making partnerships with businesses for work-based learning experiences to get them ready for their further educational experiences and their careers.

Work-based learning is personalized learning in which the student works for an outside employer. A training agreement between the student, the business and the school district learning coordinator helps structure a training plan to measure success. We want our students to be successful in their workplace, so it is important that we all agree on the measures of that success.

One of the main goals of work-based learning experiences is to develop positive work habits and behaviors that are essential for a student’s future success. Soft skills such as customer service, collaboration and problem solving will be coupled with industry skills and certifications in specific areas of expertise.

Students get the benefits of exploring different interests and career pathways, have real world applications to their learning, and develop an awareness of tasks, skills and competencies for different careers. They will reflect on and evaluate their own abilities and increase understanding about post secondary education needed for careers in the industry.

The local businesses involved in working with students will create a pipeline of potential employees to recruit and hire for future jobs, develop mentoring relationships with students, provide support and industry insight to the educational system and give back to the education system in the local community.

These work-based learning opportunities include internships, job shadows, pre-apprenticeships or apprenticeship experiences. The students will be following their Individual Career Academic Plan in order to help them make decisions about what type of work-based learning experience they would like to pursue. The work-based learning coordinator will assist students in finding the work site that fits their career goals and skills.

The Future Ready Iowa’s goal is to ensure that 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce has education or training beyond high school by 2025. This goal is a driving force behind emphasizing the work-based learning, so that we can help close the skills gap and so our students can have access to the high demand careers.


Dee Burt is a leader of College and Career Readiness in Marshalltown Schools.