Federal agency highlights Consortium models for work-based learning
The U.S. Department of Education recently cited two of the Consortium’s approaches to work-based learning in a compendium of ideas gathered in preparation for the agency’s implementation of legislative amendments aimed at “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century.” References to our input appear on pages 8 and 23 of DOE’s recently published report, Expanding Work-Based Learning Opportunities for Youth: Insights from the Field.
One approach DOE mentioned was an internship-like experience that we developed as part of a contract to train employees at agencies involved in last year’s federal summer jobs program for youth. As a result of the training, supervisors were able to structure the summer jobs as Project-Based Learning (PBL) experiences. We based the training on our Student Powered Solutions program, which pairs classrooms with companies so that students can apply their classroom learning in projects based on real-world problems the companies are trying to solve.
“The training enabled the agencies to create substantive work-based learning experiences rather than simply find busy-work for students,” said Jackie Foor, the Consortium’s Director of Organizational Advancement.
In addition to our PBL work, DOE cited a Career Mentoring model that Pennsylvania Department of Education this year made eligible for meeting state standards around work-based learning.
While the original standards call for Career Mentoring to be one-on-one, our model brings together a staff facilitator with two or three adult mentors and five to six students. Our facilitators create “ice breakers” that enable participants to develop relationships and keep discussions focused on career exploration and workplace issues.
“By comparison to traditional one-on-one career mentoring, the small groups not only can provide a greater comfort level both for adults and students, they also can help students build a broader base of social capital,” Foor said.