Highlights current state policies, describes local practices, and provides a legislative template for policymakers who want to develop paid work-based learning programs for out-of-school youth and disadvantaged adults.

“This toolkit provides resources to state policymakers and advocates on state policies for work-based learning that combines instruction at a worksite with classroom learning. The focus of the toolkit is on paid work-based learning during employment for out-of-school youth and disadvantaged adults.

Across the country, employers report a skills gap for middle-skill jobs that require some form of post high school education or training but not a bachelor’s degree. Employers report there are insufficient numbers of job applicants with the occupational/technical skills required for open middle-skill positions and that too many applicants lack critical ‘soft skills,' and have no relevant work experience. At the same time, individuals are increasingly finding they are unable to provide a good standard of living for themselves and their families unless they have some form of training beyond secondary school. This skills gap is a missed opportunity for millions of low-skilled, low-wage workers who could fill better-paying positions with the right training” (p.2).

“The toolkit contains:

  • An explanation of the key policies that support the growth of work-based learning for out-of-school youth and disadvantaged adults;
  • Examples of current state policies and local practices that expand work-based learning for out of-school-youth and disadvantaged adults; and
  • A legislative template for state work-based learning policies that target out-of-school youth and disadvantaged adults.

Policymakers and advocates can use this toolkit to:

  • Inform decisions on establishing or expanding state policies that support work-based learning;
  • Learn from other state and local community examples; and
  • Develop legislation that establishes or expands work-based learning….

In this toolkit, work-based learning means training that combines instruction at a worksite during paid employment with classroom education, and that culminates in an industry-recognized credential. This definition includes, but is not limited to, registered apprenticeship programs” (p.3).

The toolkit is divided into three sections. Section one discusses the purpose of the toolkit. Section two describes policies that support work-based learning programs and provides examples of such programs. Section three provides a template that state policymakers can use to develop legislation to support work-based learning.

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

“To support the growth of work-based learning, this toolkit presents five policy components. [The author] recommends that a state enact all five components to establish a robust policy of supporting work-based learning….The five policy components are: • A grant program to fund work-based learning intermediaries; • A support fund to aid disadvantaged populations engaged in work-based learning or preparing for work-based learning; • Grants for small employers to assist with the cost of starting and managing new apprenticeships; • A tax credit for employers employing apprentices, with an enhanced credit for apprentices from disadvantaged populations; and • A tuition waiver for apprentices’ postsecondary classroom instruction, and a requirement that this instruction articulate with certificates and degrees. [The author] recommends that the first two components be designed to encompass a variety of paid work-based learning programs. [The author also] recommends that the employer grant, tax credit, and the tuition waiver proposals apply specifically to apprenticeship programs approved by an appropriate state or federal entity. Since these proposals involve financial transactions for individual employers or participants, the language needs to be more specific as to qualifying programs.” (p.4). The guide provides examples of work-based learning. For instance, the “WSOS Community Action Commission, based in Fremont, Ohio, is an example of a community-based organization that serves as an intermediary for work-based learning. [With a U.S. DOL Ready to Work grant,] WSOS has created three work-based learning programs in cooperation with local manufacturing and electrical/construction companies, and two community colleges. The programs include pre-apprenticeships and paid internships, and serve veterans and underemployed and long-term unemployed adults” (p.5). “[The template in section three] offers generic language that a state could customize when developing legislation to support the growth of work-based learning. Each part of the template could be a separate bill, or combined into one or more bills, according to the preference of state advocates and policymakers. The language is purposefully broad in defining work-based learning for the purposes of the intermediary grants and support fund….The template does not address work-based learning for individuals who are primarily students in the K-12 or postsecondary systems” (p.9). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)