Work-Based Learning

Research References

Promoting Quality Individualized Learning Plans throughout the Lifespan: A Revised and Updated ILP How to Guide 2.0 expands upon the guidance and resources in NCWD/Youth’s earlier ILP How to Guide. ILP How to Guide 2.0 provides career development resources and examples of ILP implementation for an expanded range of age groups and settings including elementary and secondary school, postsecondary education, workforce development programs and other non-school settings. It also offers strategies for building and supporting capacity at the local level to facilitate adoption of the ILP process and provides examples of how to ensure that ILPs are implemented with quality.

Solberg, S., Martin, J., Larson, M., Nichols, K., Booth, H., Lillis, J., & Costa, L. (2018, March 19). Promoting Quality Individualized Learning Plans throughout the Lifespan: A Revised and Updated ILP How to Guide 2.0.

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This report from the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices ​(NGA Center) aims to narrow the gap between what employers need and the type of skills employees entering the workforce possess, identifying core elements of system changes that can be used to embed work-based learning in K-12.

The report identifies and explores three key elements of systems change that should be pursued to scale high-quality, work-based learning and embed it across education and workforce programs: Setting, communicating, and implementing a statewide vision; Using data to measure and scale quality work-based learning opportunities; Cultivating resource development and policy change to support and scale work-based learning.

Stephens, R. (2020). State Strategies to Scale Work-Based Learning. Washington, DC: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices.

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As policymakers, you may have a clear definition of each of the components that make up a quality work-based learning program, but is your definition and conceptualization consistent with other policymakers in your state who may have varying views and interests? Having a single definition helps to inform a common understanding among all stakeholders across a state, which can create more consistent experiences for students.

Twenty-eight states have a formal definition for work-based learning and many have components in common. This article explains some of the commonalities and differences in various state definitions.

Keily, T. (2019). How States Define Work-Based Learning. Denver, CO: Education Commission of the States.

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This paper guides the design and implementation of effective models of work-based learning that expand access for the many people who don’t currently benefit from these opportunities. It includes the introduction of seven principles for effective work-based learning that Jobs For the Future (JFF) has identified based on more than three decades of experience in promoting and implementing education and workforce strategies that support youth and adults seeking to launch and advance in careers.

Cahill, C. (2016). Making Work-Based Learning Work. Boston, MA: Jobs for the Future.

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Transition to adulthood may be especially challenging for youth with disabilities. Students enrolled in special education often need additional supports and coordinated planning to prepare for employment, postsecondary education, and community living. This report details the implementation of effective practices–such as family involvement, inclusion in general education, work-based learning, and interagency collaboration–that can help support the transition to adulthood.

Lindstrom, L. E., & Beno, C. (2020). Promoting Successful Transitions for Students with Disabilities (Rep.). Stanford, CA: Policy Analysis for California Education.

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This report explores an issue that is often a stumbling block for K-12 work-based learning–ensuring these experiences are safe and legal for students. This report features New Jersey, Kentucky and California and their approaches to dismantling work-based learning’s legal barriers, including training teachers to understand the state and federal legal, health and safety requirements for work-based learning and mitigating work-based learning liability concerns for schools and employers. 

Advance CTE: State Leaders Connecting Learning to Work. (2016). Removing Legal Barriers around Work-Based Learning. Silver Spring, MD.

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This Special Report outlines state-level policy components that help ensure work-based learning opportunities for high school students are well-coordinated, broadly accessible, aligned to state or regional workforce demands, and of high quality.

Zinth, J. (2018). Work-Based Learning: Model Policy Components. Denver, CO: Education Commission of the States.

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While many work-based learning programs are designed and operated at the local level, several states have begun building a data collection and evaluation strategy to ensure program quality, identify and scale successful programs, and share promising practices. This issue highlights examples from West Virginia, Tennessee and Massachusetts that demonstrate either a systems-level or student-level approach to measuring work-based learning activities.

Advance CTE: State Leaders Connecting Learning to Work. (2016).Measuring Work-Based Learning for Continuous Improvement. Silver Spring, MD.

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Managing work-based learning requires layers of coordination, which is typically done by an individual or organizational intermediary. This document, part of Advance CTE’s “Connecting the Classroom to Careers” series, provides guidance and examples of how states can support intermediaries to expand work-based learning. 

Advance CTE: State Leaders Connecting Learning to Work. (2016). Leveraging Intermediaries to Expand Work-Based Learning. Silver Spring, MD.

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In today’s world, it is essential that undergraduate students gain career-relevant skills to be successful in the complex, global workforce. While employers raise concerns about students’ career-readiness, higher education institutions (HEIs) are facing numerous challenges, such as unprecedented access to a college education, funding allocations and students working while attending college. All these factors lead to an arduous situation. Since learning is not merely relegated to the classroom, this qualitative multisite case study focuses on experiential learning opportunities offered through university-affiliated business incubators to gain a better understanding of how they may assist undergraduate students prepare for the workforce.

Mayorga, L.K. (2019). HEIs and Workforce Development: Helping Undergraduates Acquire Career-Readiness Attributes. Industry and Higher Education, 33(6), 370-380.

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Additional Research References

Work-Based Learning Research Documents