Standard 3. Employers develop the future workforce
through WBL activities.
INDICATOR: Employers can identify benefits from and
value their involvement in WBL activities.
- Employers create opportunities for students to explore
possible future employment.
- Employers develop a means to assess student performance
through long-term WBL activities (i.e. internships and
The primary role of the employer is to provide an environment
in which learning can take place. The employer and the work
site supervisor must understand the goals of the WBL program
and the training plan goals for individual students. In
general, the employer is responsible for:
- Providing a work experience that supports the student's
educational and career goals;
- Providing a dedicated staff professional to work
one-on-one with the student;
- Working with the WBL coordinator and the student to
create a training agreement where applicable;
- Orienting students to the work site: business
operations, performance expectations, relevant policies and
job specific safety training;
- Following all federal and state child labor laws;
- Facilitating student exposure to all aspects of the
- Informing staff of the student's purpose and enlisting
their support and help;
- Assisting the student in his/her efforts to accomplish
personal and professional goals outlined in a personal
- Providing worker's compensation for the student for all
paid hours worked (for paid experiences);
- Paying at least the state minimum wage for hours worked
by the student (for paid experiences) unless student
qualifies for an exception to the minimum wage laws in
which case documentation must be completed and on
- Meeting with the school-based coordinator during the
term to assess student progress and address problems that
- Completing formal evaluations of student work at the
Identifying and recruiting businesses/employers is an
on-going process. Employers need to be encouraged and
rewarded. A great deal of collaboration must occur between
the WBL coordinator and employer. This relationship
must be fostered and maintained. The employers will need to
understand how they will benefit from their involvement in a
WBL program. Benefits employers are likely to receive
- A new pool of potential employees who will understand
the needs and expectations of the workplace;
- An effective way to connect with local educators and
provide opportunities for students;
- Improved employee morale through student workplace
learning. (e.g., employees take pride in supervising a
young person who in turn may improve their work
- A way to provide a community service.
Business/Employer and School Partnership
While there are many types of WBL activities, it is important
that the employer, school, and students are aware of the
expectations set forth. For example, with longer-term
WBL activities, incorporating the following criteria will
help ensure both students and employers have a valuable
* Adapted from Business/Employer Partnerships
- "Connecting Youth to Work-Based Learning," MN
- The employer provides orientation to the business/work
site and safety instruction.
- The employer provides the student training on
processes, procedures and use of equipment.
- A well-designed individual training plan that comprises
tasks which are progressively more complex and difficult in
nature. The plan should be developed collaboratively with
the employer, educators, and WBL coordinator.
- The duties and tasks which the student will learn and
perform require problem solving.
- A student is exposed to "all aspects of an industry"
from planning, management, finances, technical and
production skills, technology, health and safety issues,
and the variety of occupations contained within business or
- Workplace skills and transferable skills are included
in the training plan.
- A supervisor, who is a positive role model, is assigned
to the student at the work site.
- The work site connects to the work-based seminar and
other classroom instruction.
Basic Strategies for Employers to Supervise
- Get to know the young person by asking the student
about their career dreams, goals, hobbies, strengths,
limits, and needs.
- Provide training and emphasize safety and health at all
- Young people are often not aware of the dangers in the
workplace. They need initial training and ongoing
- Provide the student opportunities to make some decision
regarding their work-based experience.
- Young people need to learn how to make informed
- Teach the young person about workplace culture.
- Young people need to learn about an employer's rules,
customs, and standards. Supervisors should encourage a
student's curiosity, invite questions, and allow for
- Be a positive role model.
- Young people are easily influenced by what is occurring
around them. The supervisor should use proper techniques
and practices (especially safety), respectful language and
avoid all types of harassment at all times.
- Be clear and straightforward with directions and
- Supervisors should give the "what," "why," and "how" of
newly assigned tasks while holding the student responsible
for the outcome.
- Advise youth on career directions and opportunities.
When at a work site, the student observes the realities of
the workplace first-hand. This is an ideal opportunity for
the supervisor to share what knowledge and skills are
required in a particular career field.
* Thuli, K.J., and Hong, E. (1998). Employer Toolkit,
Washington, DC: National Transition Alliance for Youth with
Disabilities, Academy for Education Development.
The importance of ensuring the safety of each student during
a WBL activity is crucial to the success of the program. All
activities from work site field trips to service learning to
paid work-experience must be monitored and students must be
protected at all times. There are several types of work that
are potentially hazardous to young people. These include:
working in or around motor vehicles; working near electrical
hazards; working in retail and service businesses where there
is a risk of robbery-related hazards; working on ladders,
scaffolds, roofs or construction sites; working around
cooking appliances; continuous manual lifting and lifting of
heavy objects; and operating tractors and other heavy
equipment. The WBL coordinator must be familiar with laws
pertaining to hazardous occupations. (A detailed list and
link to Child Labor Laws related to hazardous occupations is
provided in the Legal, Safety, Health section of the
Preventing hazards and accidents is the joint responsibility
of the WBL coordinator, the employer, the supervisor, and the
student. Prior to students engaging in an activity at the
site, the WBL coordinator surveys the potential risks for
students. The WBL coordinator monitors the site throughout
the experience and addresses basic safety rules in the
school- based curriculum.
The employer is responsible for maintaining a safe work
environment, eliminating hazards, training students to
recognize hazards and use safe work practices, complying with
child labor laws, evaluating equipment, and providing
appropriate supervision. The student‟s immediate supervisor
is responsible for monitoring the safety of the student and
instructing her or him when the need arises.
Each student is responsible for taking steps to protect him
or herself. They should know their rights, participate in
training programs, recognize the potential for injury at
work, ask questions, and follow safe work practices.
Best Practices Checklist for Work Site
- Develop a checklist of items to look for when
evaluating a work site.
- Explore the interest level the employer has for
participating in a WBL program.
- Interview employees at the work site. Find out if
potential work site supervisors exist.
- Assess the capacity of the work site supervisor and
employer to meet the needs of the student.
- Find out about the suitability of occupations for young
- Learn about opportunities for the development of
progressive training plans including possible advancement.
(This should include a variety of tasks for students to
- Obtain a copy of the employer's liability insurance
including workers' compensation when required.
- Identify training and safety needs and who is
responsible for training.
- Verify wages are aligned with the local prevailing
- Make sure employer understands and is compliant with
federal and state laws including child labor laws.
- Obtain a copy of the business/employer's employee
handbook, if available.
- Determine if any accessibility concerns are present.