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Work-based learning is flexible in meeting the needs of a variety of employers, education partners, and workers. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach to education and training.

Flexibility comes with a price, however. The unique design characteristics of each work-based learning project must be developed before the educational program can begin.

Click on the headings below and to the left of the page to access resources on the five elements of designing work-based learning programs:
  • Identifying Competencies: Education and training rests upon the identification of clear learning objectives. In work-based learning, the education and employer partners collaborate to identify specific work activities that demonstrate the mastery of learning objectives.
  • Determining Work Activities:  The next step is determining which work activities can be used to develop, demonstrate, and document the achievement of competencies. These work activities must be a natural part of the employee’s regular job.
  • Career Path DesignWork-based learning offers the opportunity to infuse the employee-student’s work with educational content. That content is based on career paths that meet both employer needs and student interests and that address the barriers low-skilled workers encounter when taking on additional education, including often holding two or more jobs.
  • Rewarding Skills Development: Rewarding frontline workers who engaged in and completed work-based learning is a core principle of Jobs to Careers. Financial rewards motivate frontline workers to undertake and complete work-based learning.


A Primer for Work-based Learning: How to Make a Job the Basis for a College Education
This brief describes the process of designing work-based learning for one Jobs to Careers partnership, and then adapting it for a different population and health care setting. This brief is a product of the National Program Office with the Arizona and Portland, Oregon sites.

The Jobs to Careers Work-based Learning Worksheet
This worksheet offers a step-by-step process for determining the job competencies to teach, identifying work tasks that can incorporate work-based learning, and developing ways to determine when the employee/student attains the desired competencies. The tool can be adapted to particular work settings and job requirements.

The Jobs to Careers Milestone Tool (interactive tool) (Click here for printable version.)
Use this project-management tool to plan and document the key activities and major milestones for each element of a work-based learning project. The tool specifies program elements for each partner and the timeframes for completing each element. This step-by-step process keeps a project on track.