Standard 3. Employers develop the future
workforce through WBL activities.
INDICATOR: Employers can identify benefits
from and value their involvement in WBL
- 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 co-op placements).
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
- Orienting students to the work site: business
operations, performance expectations, relevant
policies and job specific safety training;
- Following all federal and state child labor
- Facilitating student exposure to all aspects of
- 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 learning plan;
- Providing worker's compensation for the student
for all paid hours worked (for paid
- 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 file;
- Meeting with the school-based coordinator during
the term to assess student progress and address
problems that arise; and
- Completing formal evaluations of student work at
the work site
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 are:
- A new pool of potential employees who will
understand the needs and expectations of the
- 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 performance); and
- 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 experience:
* Adapted from Business/Employer Partnerships
- "Connecting Youth to Work-Based
Learning," MN DCFL, 2003
- 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
- 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 industry.
- 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 times.
- Young people are often not aware of the dangers
in the workplace. They need initial training and
- 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 exploration opportunities.
- 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
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 manual.)
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
- Learn about opportunities for the development of
progressive training plans including possible
advancement. (This should include a variety of tasks
for students to develop competencies.)
- Obtain a copy of the employer's liability
insurance including workers' compensation when
- Identify training and safety needs and who is
responsible for training.
- Verify wages are aligned with the local
- Make sure employer understands and is compliant
with federal and state laws including child labor
- Obtain a copy of the business/employer's employee
handbook, if available.
- Determine if any accessibility concerns are