Standard 3

Standard 3. Employers develop the future workforce through 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 co-op placements).
INDICATOR: Employers can identify benefits from and value their involvement in WBL activities.

Employer Responsibilities* 
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 field;
  • 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 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 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 

Employer Benefits
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 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 performance); and
  • A way to provide a community service.

Business/Employer and School Partnership Expectations
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:
  • 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 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.
* Adapted from Business/Employer Partnerships - "Connecting Youth to Work-Based Learning," MN DCFL, 2003 

Basic Strategies for Employers to Supervise Youth*  
  • 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 ongoing reminders.
  • Provide the student opportunities to make some decision regarding their work-based experience.
  • Young people need to learn how to make informed decisions.
  • 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 instructions.
  • 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.

Student Safety
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 Selection
  • 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 people.
  • 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 required.
  • Identify training and safety needs and who is responsible for training.
  • Verify wages are aligned with the local prevailing wage.
  • 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.


Jay Ramsey at or (802) 479-1343

Page Last Updated on December 4, 2014