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«Work Based Learning in the US »

Work Based Learning (WBL) opportunities provide a framework of learning academic, technical and employable techniques in a physical job environment. In the learning process the cognitive, social and career capabilities of the students are developed. WBL is achieved through job shadowing, cooperative learning in work place environments and apprentice programs. The programs work to produce college and career ready graduates. In the paper WBL and Career and Technical Education (CTE) derive the same meaning. This form of educational systems is popular in industrialized nations. It is important because it exposes students in classrooms to work environments. The current paper’s aim is to describe the status of college and career ready students in the United States. It further looks into CTE structures that can improve the situation.

Alfeld (2013), quoting Hoffman notes that those students from the United States took the least duration in workplace learning environments. It is because the system provides limited chances for those wishing to explore this line. The link between educational systems and industries is weak since employers view no obligation in the provision of workplace learning. As such, the private sector assumes no incentive in training of personnel. The aspect is advanced by a premise in which high school students are considered less productive and predictable.  Consequently, employers find it difficult to engage students who are not sure about their careers choices; and wage discrimination between apprentices and employees including contract disputes. At the national level, the anticipated infusion of work and school through School to Work Opportunities Act achieved very small benefits. Equally, the program receives inadequate funding from the government. College and Career ready program is not strong since employer federation in the US does little to promote private-public partnerships (Alfeld, 2013).

Thus, the productivity of the US students, when compared to those from other industrialized countries is at risk. WBL provides three learning opportunity types; internships or cooperative learning, apprenticeship and school based enterprises. The learning process improves the understanding, motivations in classrooms, work readiness, critical thinking and attendance in schools. The process is cheap for career development and offers innovation briefs for a particular field. In addition, students who are engaged in WBL tend to complete education. They are also more engaged in further postsecondary training, in the US. Alfeld (2013), while referring to Stasz and Kagonoff, points out that students in WBL programs learn to take responsibility, work hard and beat deadlines. Equally, their confidence is built and work skills are improved. The motivation is developed if students can link class work with the events at the workplace (Alfeld, 2013).

WBL aims at influencing student identify with their career either by motivation or experience. In the US, the programs that develop experience are lower than motivational one. Thus, career awareness techniques such as job shadowing, motivational speakers, tours and job fairs need to be promoted along internships, apprenticeship and school based enterprises. In school based programs, CTE teachers are dominant in mentoring a student through a career path. However, the work assignment is determined by the hosting company. The teachers mentored the students based on industry guideline and policies linking class curriculum with WBL program. Internships and apprenticeship sessions offer more practical work based on learning experiences and involve interaction among the student supervising teach and supervisor at workplace (Alfeld, 2013).

In conclusion, the productivity of students in further careers lays in the link between classroom and real work environments. The link has to be improved by strengthening public-private partnership so that students can develop academic, technical and employable skills. It is a positive step in some states that are already promoting the practice through development of state competency checklists for WBL or a framework in which students earn an industry competency certificate. Therefore, in the long run, the American education system can develop and compete with other systems in industrialized nations.



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