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Creating an effective work-based learning experience is always a work in progress.

In Jobs to Careers, employers and their partners in colleges, unions, workforce boards, and other organizations did not have a fixed template for refashioning work and school to enhance career opportunities for frontline workers. What they had in common was a process of continuous improvement and adaptation.

As project leaders and staff encountered barriers to the success of their programs, they made adjustments and undertook new strategies. Their experiences in achieving their goals for work-based learning provide rich lessons for other practitioners.

For more information on addressing obstacles, go to: Development of Internal Commitment and Building Basic Skillss.


Adapting to the Requirements of the Work Process

Jobs to Careers in Community-Based Care
In Portland, Oregon, long-term care facilities wrestled with how to fit training into the workday without disrupting patient care. Each facility handled the challenge differently. One employer hired a training coordinator with full-time responsibility for training each frontline worker on all 27 work-based learning modules in the program. This coordinator conducted the training at times and locations convenient to each participant. Another facility delivered portions of the training at mandatory, monthly staff meetings. It also paid the salaries of trainers and frontline workers for their time covering the rest of the material in small group meetings immediately before and after work shifts.

Addressing Work­–life Balance Issues

Adding class, study, and homework time to work and family responsibilities can be physically and emotionally taxing for frontline workers. Jobs to Careers projects addressed work-life balance issues through cohort learning and one-on-one meetings with supervisors and by slowing down training.

The Milestone Tool (interactive tool)
This interactive tool is a template for planning a work-based learning project, including how to address work-life balance issues. (Click here for printable version.)

Invisible No Longer: Advancing the Entry-level Workforce in Health Care
Invisible No Longer explores a wide variety of workforce development practices, with a focus on entry-level health care workers and their quest for jobs leading to rewarding careers. It reports on where there is progress, where further investments would pay dividends, and what lessons are emerging.

A Primer for Work-Based Learning: How to Make a Job the Basis for a College Education
Medford, Oregon; Owensboro, Kentucky; and Fall River, Massachusetts enrolled frontline workers in classroom and work-based learning as a single, cohesive group known as a cohort. By training workers in small groups, the sites delivered personalized instruction while providing workers access to much needed emotional, social, and technical support from their peers.  

Supervisors Stepping Up: Supporting the Learning of Frontline Workers in Health Care
In San Francisco, California, Tenderloin Health refashioned workers’ weekly one-on-one meetings with their supervisors to provide equal time for discussion about workplace and personal matters. And in Seattle, Washington, project partners sought to prevent burnout among frontline workers by stretching the length of its medical assistant training program from 9 to 18 months. Workers used the additional time to complete remedial courses.  

Gaining Support from Middle Management

ASHHRA Learning Session PowerPoint
In Youngstown, Ohio, Humility of Mary Health Partners developed an apprenticeship program to provide on-the-job and classroom training for frontline workers seeking to become unit clerks and healthcare associates. Yet, department supervisors initially were reluctant to hire workers still in training. In response, the project increased outreach to hiring managers and nurses to better explain program objectives. It also spread the word on the significant, positive improvements in professionalism, skills, and service exhibited by program graduates.

Addressing Regulatory Barriers

The Intersection of State Regulations and Work-Based Learning
In Baltimore, Maryland and Owensboro, Kentucky, Jobs to Careers projects overcame obstacles in implementing work-based learning programs due to state regulations governing academic requirements for nurses and nurse assistants.