The Ohio Department of Education defines work-based learning as “a coordinated sequence of experiences designed to provide students with real-world learning through partnerships with local business and industry.” What’s the aim of WBL? To give young adults opportunities to explore career paths and better connect their schooling to job experience and employment opportunities.
While such programs are obviously beneficial to students who are exploring their career options, their benefits to the businesses hosting the students may not be as clear. But participating in WBL can have both immediate and long-term value for your company.
Connecting with new talent
Having students temporarily work for your company can be a low-commitment method to connect with young, promising talent. Forbes Councils Member John Baker professes the advantage this can give your company. “WBL gives employers a direct, no-obligation recruiting line of new talent,” he states. “Many students in WBL programs return to the businesses they trained in as full employees.”
By having this window into the up-and-coming workforce, you can use WBL experiences as a pipeline to connect with future employees and forgo the hassle of recruiting. Plus, hiring a former WBL participant you already trained will save you the effort of having to orient them later.
Improve your employees
WBL collaborations can bring your company value by improving the skills, leadership, and efficiency of your current employees. By allowing your existing team members to train and coach temporary workers, they’ll have the opportunity to cultivate their expertise and aptitude for management. This could be especially valuable if your company doesn’t have a lot of turnover and rarely brings in new workers to hire.
Visibility for your business
As you forge relationships with local schools and colleges through WBL experiences, you’ll simultaneously be growing your brand awareness to local consumers as well as employment hopefuls. If you’re worried that taking on a student as a temporary worker is too much of a commitment,
Cheryl C. Cox of North Carolina’s EdNC points out that WBL experiences can also include less-demanding commitments like classroom presentations, workplace tours, career fair attendance, mock interviews, or job shadowing. All of these are easy ways to make your company more visible while fostering educational development.
A growth mindset
Even if the benefits of participating in WBL programs aren’t concretely measurable or immediately apparent for your company, you’re helping foster a long-term transformation in the way education connects to work.
Maria Dalakoura of the Institute of Entrepreneurship Development explains it well: “Work-based learning is going to give employees the opportunity to learn at work. As a result, they will view the business as a place of learning and earning … It is important for every company and every business to try and make their employees feel like they can evolve while they work.” A growth mindset among your employees can stir them to help develop professionally — and in turn help your business grow.
Consider developing a work-based learning program in your industry to provide students with the chance to learn more about your business and the ways they can become a more valuable employee.