Work-based learning is an instructional strategy that is essential in preparing all students for success in postsecondary education and careers and is a core component of the Linked Learning approach. The primary purposes of work-based learning are to expose students to future options and provide opportunities for skill development and mastery over time. All work-based learning experiences involve interactions with industry or community professionals that are linked to school-based instruction. These learning experiences are intentionally designed to help students extend and deepen classroom work and to make progress toward learning outcomes that are difficult to achieve through classroom or standard project-based learning alone. The term "work-based" does not mean the experience must occur at a workplace or during the standard "work day."
A continuum of work-based learning experiences stretches from kindergarten into adulthood. Stated most simply, the stages of work-based learning can be described as:
- Career Awareness and Exploration: Learning ABOUT work.
- Career Preparation: Learning THROUGH work.
- Career Training: Learning FOR work.