With support from business, education, community, and philanthropic partners, Workforce Solutions is launching a flexible Work-Based Learning program in West Central Texas. These opportunities allow students to explore career fields of interest and potentially work part-time at an internship for pay or credit towards high school graduation while staying on track to earn their high school diploma. They can even gain college credit or an industry credential. Work-based learning has shown to be effective in helping students meet academic milestones, and employers benefit as well. Research suggests that employers who support these partnerships have improved talent pipelines, and more engaged and productive workforces. And of course, the whole region benefits when more young people are gaining education and work experience.
About Work-Based Learning
Work-based learning (WBL) is a term that encompasses different types of educational and training opportunities that blend academics with workplace learning. Built from the premise that people learn best when they apply learning to real-life situations, WBL ensures students gain academic and practical experiences to enable them to get jobs and fill critical roles.
The scalable Work-Based Learning program model includes industry tours, job shadowing, and internships for high school juniors and seniors. WBL partnerships include an education provider, typically a high school and postsecondary provider, and an employer. Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas plays an important intermediary role, to ease the burden of connection and implementation for both employers and educators.
WBL in West Central Texas
The Work-Based Learning program coordinated by Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas prioritizes:
- Paid experiences
- Experiences aligned with existing regional priorities and emerging occupational areas (IT, etc.)
- Experiences that provide a positive opportunity for students, with clear associated learning outcomes and concrete roles and responsibilities for student workers.
Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas will support WBL cohorts each year, allowing stakeholders to work and learn together while providing more efficient administration.
Creating a WBL Opportunity
Are you an educator, employer, or student/student-parent who is interested in starting a Work-Based Learning opportunity? Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas has created resources linked below to learn more about what our work-based learning program looks like for you.
Job Shadow Experience Evaluation Forms
If you are a student or employer who has actively participated in the 2023 Job Shadow Experience as a part of the Work-Based Learning program, please complete and submit the respective form below to tell us about your experience.
- How does Work-Based Learning help students?
A significant body of research has proven that students who have opportunities to apply what they are learning in the classroom to work settings can be beneficial. In addition to reporting improvements in competency, students who participate in WBL are more likely to earn higher wages in their future employment.
More recent research underscores the importance of the social capital young learners developed through work-based learning experiences, and just how valuable that can be for lifelong prospects. The supervisors, mentors, and colleagues that young workers engage with during a WBL experience can be transformational, especially during an era of “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.”
- How does Work-Based Learning help employers?
Employers who partner to provide Work-based learning opportunities reap rewards, especially during tight labor markets. In addition to reporting increased innovation and improved workplace diversity (which in itself results in higher profit margins), more than 80 percent of employers that supported job-shadowing, internships, and apprenticeships reported increased productivity and output. Work-based learning is also a proven talent pipeline development strategy, with many students becoming long-term employees who are trained with the precise skills, knowledge, and capacities employers need
- How much does a Work-Based Learning experience cost?
The Work-Based Learning program encourages paid internship experiences, enabling students to gain high-quality work-based experiences while not restricting participation to those who can afford to work without compensation. Texas minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. While employers can set their own rates, employer partners are encouraged to pay a competitive wage. The Texas Workforce Commission notes that employers report paying between $12-$15 per hour for internships, and more in some in-demand fields.
For roles that require tools and equipment or uniforms, employers may not deduct expenses for these materials to the extent that it would reduce the employee’s pay below minimum wage. Where appropriate, employers should consider providing necessary work tools and equipment directly. Where this is not possible, either because employers cannot accommodate additional expenses or because student workers cannot absorb additional costs, the employer should connect with Workforce Solutions. The Workforce Solutions team may be able to identify other funding sources to cover tools, materials, and uniforms for student workers.
- Can I employ someone under the age of 18?
Yes. With the exception of a few occupations, 16 and 17-year-olds are able to work in many different types of jobs. The students participating in WBL experiences supported through Workforce Solutions will have received some form of occupational training through their high school programming. Participants are also required to complete a Work Readiness workshop designed to ensure they understand their rights as workers and are prepared to succeed.
- What are students under 18 not allowed to do?
Students age 16-17 are restricted from working in particular occupations that have been deemed hazardous, including manufacturing of explosives, driver, coal mine occupations, logging and other occupations. For certain occupations, including woodworking, metal forming, saw use, roofing, and excavation jobs, student learners may be employed under a written agreement.
- How many hours can student employees work?
Typically, a student will be able to work 50-150 hours over 10-15 weeks, depending on the employer’s needs and the student’s academic and extracurricular obligations. During summer months, students may be able to work full-time.