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Work-based learning opportunities give students experience

Gaining experience is an essential part of a 21st-century education as students gain knowledge and skills.  Work-based learning offers the chance for students to participate in a work setting, connect with professionals in the field, and better understand a career path before they graduate from high school.

Chances are that you’ve heard the term recently; if you haven’t, you likely will soon.  The Ohio Department of Education says all students should accumulate 250 hours of work-based learning during their high school years.

These are not just field trips or casual encounters.  There are three components that make up a true work-based learning experience:  They must occur at a work site, they must be co-supervised by an instructor and a business mentor or employer, and they must include a learning agreement to ensure that students are growing and benefitting.

In Ohio, there are a number of settings in which students can take part in work-based learning:

Off-site placement or internship.  This may be a paid position or non-paid internship; students perform the work typical of an employee in that professional field.

Apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship.  In skilled trades or industries, apprentices complete 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 144 hours annually of classroom instruction.  This leads to a nationally-recognized credential.

Remote or virtual placement.  The work is similar to other types of placement but is performed away from the employer’s location.

Entrepreneurship.  Students create a business plan and operate a business or service.

School-based enterprise.  Some high schools have spirit shops, coffee shops, printing companies, or other student-operated businesses.

Simulated work environment.  Students perform work typical for their industry or field, interact with customers or community members, and are evaluated by a business mentor in simulated setting or facility.

Work-based learning experiences have long been part of a career-technical education at career centers like Great Oaks Career Campuses (www.greatoaks.com).  In fact, about one in four seniors at Great Oaks participates in job placement or internship activities.

We emphasize work-based learning and work to expand opportunities for students each year.  By participating, students develop important professional skills, better understand how to be successful on the job, and get the chance to experience a career before making a long-term commitment.