As economic gaps widen and technology rapidly reshapes our workforce, it is more important than ever for students to gain practical experience as part of a work-based learning program. According to a recent survey by Adecco, 92 percent of executives think American workers are lacking important skills. “This skills gap limits economic growth and is also a missed opportunity for low-skilled, low-wage workers who could fill these better-paying positions with the right training.”
We need to expand work-based learning programs to all students but they are difficult to scale because providing these high-quality, rigorous experiences requires managing complex logistics across multiple stakeholders including:
- Business partners
- Program administrators
- Superintendents and administrators
- State and federal agencies
Robust work-based learning programs require employers, school districts, support organizations, schools, and students to interact in complicated and layered ways. As students move across the continuum of work-based learning, employer/student engagement increases, making interactions and tracking even more complex.
Unfortunately, 93 percent of these vital programs are still managed on paper, providing no visibility and little scale.
And, at scale, you need to manage hundreds if not thousands of students across hundreds of sites. As a result of this complexity, program managers, schools, and districts often get crushed by the sheer paperwork and either don’t or can’t take advantage of all the rich resources available for students in the community.
The remainder of this short article features supporting videos that will discuss some of the initial challenges of scaling a work-based learning program and how software can help.
Some of the Top Challenges of Scaling a Work-Based Learning Program
Award winning Associate Superintendent, Dr. Lazaro Lopez, manages over 3,000 student apprenticeships annually. In this short interview he discusses some of the unexpected challenges of successfully scaling a work-based learning program.
Finding Business Partners
Once you know what your student population is most interested in, you need to find and develop the right business partners. You not only have to find the right community partners who are interested in engaging with your students, but also match those partners’ work to students’ interests. Part of the challenge for the administrator is the requirement to do both of these at the same time. Not only are you trying to encourage students to take that step to engage in these authentic experiences that we know lead to significant post-secondary outcomes, you are also required to make it easy for the business partners.
To do this you need to create efficiencies for the business partner and the administrator. So when you actually engage and recruit an employer who is willing to participate, you can continue that communication with that employer in a way that is — to some extent — automated. This is critical because as you scale a program you need to constantly be spending your time finding the next employer for the next set of students.
This process needs to be systematic and repeatable. A software will allow you to:
- Manage their initial recruitment and secure their commitment
- Collect their initial information and determine their capacity
- And automate their training in your program
Keeping Students Safe
One of the biggest challenges that most schools experience in moving to scale is managing background checks. You’ve got to ensure and guarantee the safety and security of your students. So it’s not enough to have a conversation with the individual and make sure there’s a match. You have to ensure that the adults who are working with your students pass your background checks and handle this in a way that’s efficient and effective before you place a student on site. Transeo Jobs automates this process start to finish within its software.
Developing Business Partnerships
Not all business partners will immediately provide internships. Some may just start with a shadow day or come to speak at your schools. You also need a way to track and manage these relationships to maturity.
How do you track all of those individuals that are starting slow? For example – when you’re trying to do this at scale – you’ve made connections that have said, “Well, I’m willing to come to speak to a class, but I’m not yet willing to host a student at my work site.”
You need to be able to work those relationships much like businesses work their customers so that you can get a student placed there. To do this you need a software that helps to track and manage these relationships and keeps all your data and communications with the partner in one place.
Real-Time Visibility to Ensure Engagement
Once your program is up and running you need visibility into knowing where your students are and what experiences are happening (and not happening). With a handful of students this is possible using paper and spreadsheets but at scale it is not. If you are hand-counting experiences and trying to create spreadsheets to track completion of requirements, your information will not be accurate and it will not be in real-time.
A software will capture and track all critical program information in real-time including verification of students’ work by the employers. You will know that students are actually receiving access to these experiences you worked hard to create, which is essential.
The Advantages of Visibility in a Work-Based Learning Software (2 min video)
CEO, Dr. Don Fraynd – PhD, discusses how a software increases the impact of your program for every stakeholder
State and Federal Reporting
And finally, there’s compliance reporting, which is only going to increase in complexity. And what does that compliance look like? With ESSA recently being passed with the help of AASA and Redefining Ready! in school districts, many states plan to require districts to track and manage nonacademic indicators. Many states are focusing on college and career readiness indicators, which include work-based learning experiences. In addition, the recently-authorized Perkins Act requires districts to provide and report on work-ready experiences down to the microlevel of each student.
A software will automate all of this reporting with the data being (at most) two mouse clicks away.
How a Work-Based Learning Software Provides Scale by Making Engagement Easier for All Your Stakeholders (Video Webcast)
In this educational webcast, Transeo co-founder and award-winning superintendent, Dr. Dave Schuler, shares best practices to scale a work-based learning program and how a software makes it easier for all your stakeholders.
About Transeo and Transeo Jobs
Transeo Jobs Explainer Video
Quick Overview of our Workplace Learning Software – Transeo Jobs
Transeo is a suite of cloud-based educational solutions that helps students and staff connect to each other in a more effective way. We make community service tracking and internship reporting easy. We help schools and districts move away from paper-based processes so counselors, advisors, and administrators can invest more quality time with the people who matter the most: students.
Transeo Jobs helps students focus on becoming career ready by putting opportunities, classes, and experiences in one dashboard. We help schools keep track of complex information and complicated interactions in our user-friendly platform that manages key contacts and service providers. Check out the resources below to learn more about scaling a Work-Based Learning Program.